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Your New Home

Categories: Creative Writing Prompts Tags: creative writing exercises, creative writing prompts, writing prompt.

Your spouse wants to move out of your new apartment, saying that there is a large space you both can move into. When you go to visit the new digs, you find it’s an abandoned warehouse at an old train yard. Clearly you can’t live there. Only your spouse just spent your life savings to buy it. What do you say?

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360 Responses to Your New Home

  1. inthebones says:

    ‘Ryan, what is this?’ I stared around the giant, hollow room in bewilderment, trying to make sense of the excited anticipation on my husband’s face.
    ‘Whaddya think? I was worried to go ahead without your say so, but I was sure you’d love it.’
    ‘Love what?’ I eyed the darkened corners suspiciously. There were no hidden friends waiting to yell, ‘surprise!’ And besides, my birthday wasn’t for four months.
    ‘Whaddya mean what? It’s ours! I bought it!’ He grasped my arms enthusiastically, his grey eyes jubilant. ‘I know it looks a bit dodgy now, but look at all the space! It only needs a little doing up.’
    ‘Whoa.’ I steeled against my husband as a wild panic rose like bile in my throat. ‘Darling, you didn’t. Please tell me you haven’t signed anything.’
    ‘You told me to do what I felt was right.’ He released my arms. ‘You said you trusted me.’
    ‘I trusted you to make a smart decision.’ I was beginning to lose control. ‘I didn’t give you access to our savings so you could do something stupid like buy a giant man cave!’
    His jaw set. I’d flipped the switch. Ahh, way to go Bek, hit him in his manhood. You’ve lost him now.
    ‘It’s not a man cave, Rebekah.’ He said tightly, ‘I didn’t do this for me, I did it for us.’
    ‘Us? How do I benefit from this? As if our lives aren’t separate enough! I’ll never see you now. At least your shed at home is only a few meters away. But this!’ I flung my arms wildly, ‘this is your own private island isn’t it! Another step towards reclaiming your bachelorhood.’
    He looked confused, but I ignored him, my voice taking on a bitter edge, ‘I don’t know why you don’t save us both the time and file for divorce now.’
    ‘Bekka, you’ve got it all wrong!’ He wasn’t angry anymore. His mouth softened into a smile. ‘It’s our new home! It’s on vendor finance. So long as we find a buyer for the unit, this puppy is ours!’
    ‘You mean, we’re going to live here?’
    He grinned, ‘Yep!’
    ‘But we just finished renovating the unit…’
    ‘Darling, you and me need wide open spaces! With your creativity and my know-how, we’ll make this place amazing!’
    A slow, wistful smile spread across my face as I looked around the warehouse with new eyes. Our warehouse. ‘Really?’
    ‘I told you you could trust me.’
    My throat closed over. ‘You really have thought it out, haven’t you?’
    ‘Of course I have, darling. I love you.’
    Grasping my husband’s hand firmly, I felt his wedding band beneath my fingertips, worn to a thin edge after a decade of wear. We’d always talked about taking on a crazy project. Building our dream home from the ground up. Sure, I never expected an old warehouse in an abandoned railway, but it had potential.
    The old spark was in his eyes as he glanced at me sideways, ‘This will be good for us. We need a fresh start.’
    I felt the meaning in the words. ‘We’re going to be ok, aren’t we?’
    He wrapped me up in a warm, tight hug. ‘Of course we are, darling. We’ll always be ok.’

  2. inthebones says:

    ‘Ryan, what is this?’ I stared around the giant, hollow room in bewilderment, trying to make sense of the excited anticipation on my husband’s face.
    ‘Whaddya think? I was worried to go ahead without your say so, but I was sure you’d love it.’
    ‘Love what?’ I eyed the darkened corners suspiciously. There were no hidden friends waiting to yell, ‘surprise!’ And besides, my birthday wasn’t for four months.
    ‘Whaddya mean what? It’s ours! I bought it!’ He grasped my arms enthusiastically, his grey eyes jubilant. ‘I know it looks a bit dodgy now, but look at all the space! It only needs a little doing up.’
    ‘Whoa.’ I steeled against my husband as a wild panic rose like bile in my throat. ‘Darling, you didn’t. Please tell me you haven’t signed anything.’
    ‘You told me to do what I felt was right.’ He released my arms. ‘You said you trusted me.’
    ‘I trusted you to make a smart decision.’ I was beginning to lose control. ‘I didn’t give you access to our savings so you could do something stupid like buy a giant man cave!’
    His jaw set. I’d flipped the switch. Ahh, way to go Bek, hit him in his manhood. You’ve lost him now.
    ‘It’s not a man cave, Rebekah.’ He said tightly, ‘I didn’t do this for me, I did it for us.’
    ‘Us? How do I benefit from this? As if our lives aren’t separate enough! I’ll never see you now. At least your shed at home is only a few meters away. But this!’ I flung my arms wildly, ‘this is your own private island isn’t it! Another step towards reclaiming your bachelorhood.’
    He looked confused, but I ignored him, my voice taking on a bitter edge, ‘I don’t know why you don’t save us both the time and file for divorce now.’
    ‘Bekka, you’ve got it all wrong!’ He wasn’t angry anymore. His mouth softened into a smile. ‘It’s our new home! It’s on vendor finance. So long as we find a buyer for the unit, this puppy is ours!’
    ‘You mean, we’re going to live here?’
    He grinned, ‘Yep!’
    ‘But we just finished renovating the unit…’
    ‘Darling, you and me need wide open spaces! With your creativity and my know-how, we’ll make this place amazing!’
    A slow, wistful smile spread across my face as I looked around the warehouse with new eyes. Our warehouse. ‘Really?’
    ‘I told you you could trust me.’
    My throat closed over. ‘You really have thought it out, haven’t you?’
    ‘Of course I have, darling. I love you.’
    Grasping my husband’s hand firmly, I felt his wedding band beneath my fingertips, worn to a thin edge after a decade of wear. We’d always talked about taking on a crazy project. Building our dream home from the ground up. Sure, I never expected an old warehouse in an abandoned railway, but it had potential.
    The old spark was in his eyes as he glanced at me sideways, ‘This will be good for us. We need a fresh start.’
    I felt the meaning in the words. ‘We’re going to be ok, aren’t we?’
    He wrapped me up in a warm, tight hug. ‘Of course we are, darling. We’ll always be ok.’

    * * *

  3. MrsCass007 says:

    “You New Home” “The Old Round House”

    For as far back as I could remember I had occasional dreams of train trips. They never made sense and always came at random. Since they where pleasant, I would just smile and go on about my day.

    My husband had called in a state of mania.

    “You have to come meet me at the old round house.”

    “The old round house?”

    “Yes, hurry!”

    “Is everything alright?”

    “It’s perfect.”

    In 1905 the old round house had forty stalls filled with shops and offices. As I stood there I could see myself as a debutante, in silks and furs. Having my luggage carried onto the train and then the all aboard being called out. I was on my first step in the journey to Paris. Was it nostalgia or deja vu?

    “My little clown.” “Are you with me?”

    I snapped back to reality. I had to take a deep breath and swallow. The old round house had closed down in 1945. Today it was a far cry from it’s hay day. Still I felt a crackling in the air.

    “I’m here.” “I think.”

    “How about we have the picnic I packed?” My husband was the romantic. Funny how to the outside world he was the practical down to earth one and I was the crazy artist.

    He had a card table set up with a cupcake with a candle in it. It was my birthday.

    “How about some of that wine you brought?”

    “Are you going to kill me?”

    “Not yet.” “I hated our apartment too.” “You have heard the stories about this place though haven’t you?”

    The reason the old round house had closed down was rich man’s daughter had been found dead and the old man had sued the railroad for it. Every year since then a dead woman had been found here. A chill ran down my spin. I felt like right now I was being watched.

    Weeks, turned into months and it was like the spirit of the rail road had blessed me. My art had starting selling like hot cakes in the winter. With that money we had been able to afford a lawyer to help negotiate a contract to refurbish and reopen the old round house.

    I suddenly heard a woman screaming and running at me in long red gown. She passed right through me. I was frozen. Then standing in front of me was a man dressed in an old train station crew uniform. In his eyes was death. I threw my painting at him and a knife went into it. Then I felt a breeze go by my face and saw blood on the knife. I realized it was my husband.

    “What are you doing !!!?”

    “What I should of done a long time ago.”

    Then the knife went into my heart and I was the woman in the red gown running down the way.

    • flackmrs47 says:

      A New Home
      Stanley Brando was not very happy about his new home—in a deserted warehouse. The big man’s wife, Elaine, had told him when he returned from the library “Welcome home, Sweetheart, any progress with your research, huh?” She asked.
      “Not really,” he mumbled, heading for the living room; however, he took a double-take: the entire room was empty.
      Now he exploded. “Elaine! Where happened to the furniture!”
      “Stanley, we’re moving—I found the ideal place for—this morning.”
      “But we never discuss this, Elaine,” he relented. “So just call the movers back!”
      “Stanley, I can’t do that…they are already at the new place.” She shrugged. “
      “Elaine, I am not leaving this house,” he sneered.
      “Mrs. Lucas said—you would react like this, so I’ll let you talk with her.”
      “And who is Mrs. Lucas?” Now he was intrigued.
      “She sold us the warehouse,” she replied. “It is ideal for our needs. The poor dear hated to sell it, but I finally convinced her.”
      “I think your Mrs. Lucas swindled you…well, we’re driving out to see her.”
      “Very well, Stanley.” She shrugged.
      Fifteen minutes later, they were at Mrs. Lucas’ home: a big, two-storied home in excellent condition, across the street was a large, foreboding warehouse. Mr. Brando parked car. “Let me do the talking. I can handle your sweet little lady.”
      “That is fine with me, Stanley.”
      Mrs. Lucas came out to greet them. She was in her sixties; but she had a wonderful smile. “Hello, Mr. Brando, your wife told me to expect you…Would you like coffee and fresh-baked blueberry muffins—before I show you your new home?”
      Elaine waited for her husband to decide. The big man took a deep breath, seemingly impatient. Finally he shrugged. “I haven’t had fresh-baked muffin—since I was a boy. Yes, we will.”
      Shortly she returned with a serving tray. “It must have been a shock to come home—,” She paused, “and find that your sweet wife bought you a new home—without your permission…Most men would be outraged…And were you totally out raged, Stanley?”
      “Well not outraged—but surprised, “he replied, “It took us almost a year to buy our last place.”
      “Well that is understandable,” she agreed. “Well enjoy your muffin, Stanley. Hopefully it compares favorably to your mother’s.”
      Both women sipped their coffee silently, watching him eat his hot desert, his pudgy face bursting into a smile. “Good muffin, Mrs. Lucas! Maybe even better than my Mom’s”
      “I am glad you like them,” she beamed. “You can take the rest home, since I can’t eat sweets.”
      About thirty minutes later, their hostess took them across the street to see their new home. Mr. Bando cringed as they went inside the giant structure, but the building was actually livable, since their furniture had arrived. Also the neighborhood was quiet, conducive for writing; and Mrs. Lucas was an added incentive, so much like his mother, so happy and nurturing. Maybe this was not such bad new home.

  4. derrdevil says:

    The Rambler and the Gambler

    The cold, decrepit and empty concrete warehouse smelled of decomposed wood, ancient rodent excrement and other ungodly awful treasures Johnny’s nose thankfully couldn’t recognise. The place was a dump. A once lumber storage facility and then makeshift hobo sanctuary, the place wreaked of it’s sordid past. It’s unique scented history embedded in the concrete grain of its chewed up floors and it’s rusted steel frames. This was no place to call home.

    Johnny kicked up some loose gravel by the entrance. “What the hell were you thinking, Jen?”

    Jennifer ran over to him from the other end of the building. “Just think of the potential it has, babe.”

    She tried to grab him by his hands but he brushed her aside. He wanted none of it. “This is crazy. You’ve lost it, Jen.”

    “Don’t be like that, Johnny.” Her beaming smile fading.

    “It’s in the middle of nowhere! Even the industrial side of town had the decency to move out of here ten years ago.”

    “Come on, it’s perfect for the kids. Ample space to run around. Huge fields to play in. Its like a playground with all the abandoned trains.”

    “You smoking your socks, girl. Kids aren’t safe her. This is where the dealers do their shit.”

    “Don’t talk to me like that, John.” Jennifer, with reddened cheeks and a quivering pout, was clearly getting upset. But Johnny didn’t stop. He was angry. Upset that his wife had went behind his back.

    “You want our kids growing up with prostitutes and junkies their entire childhood? Don’t you read the news? One of them was murdered here a few months ago. See the bullet hole.” Johnny hastily strode up to the wall and dug his finger into a crumbled part of concrete beside a broken window. He was lying about the murder. There was no murder. But Jennifer didn’t need to know that. John was trying to scare her out of her ridiculous dream.

    “We’ll get security, John. We’ll do it up. Just like our dream house. It’s got plenty of space. The back can –”

    “With what money, Jen? You used up our entire savings. There’s nothing left.”

    “There’s ways around that, hun. We’ll get a loan from the bank. Everything will work out fine. This was always the plan.” Jen tried to calm her husband down, ignoring her own riled up sense of agitation. This was their dream to do. Together. To build a home for their kids. One with sprawling fields and abundant play-things to keep them busy, one where their childhood memories would forever be entangled with a sense of magic. There was no reason for him to be this angry.

    Johnny slumped his shoulder’s. Jenny wasn’t giving up. He had to come clean. “There’s no loan from the bank, Jen.”

    “What do you mean ‘there’s no loan’?”

    “They won’t give it.”

    Jen looked on blankly. She couldn’t understand what Johnny was trying to tell her.

    “I owe the bank.”

    “You owe the bank?” Jen was dumbfounded and Johnny knew why and he had nothing to say. There was nothing he could say. “You asshole!”

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      Perfect ending for a nightmare of a couple who can’t communicate with each other. Your description of the warehouse msde me smell it just from reading it. Very entertaining to see how two disfunctional people can get into real trouble.

      A couple of tweaks,
      “Upset that his wife had went behind his back….” Substitute ‘gone’ for went.
      Substitute some dialogue from story, such as “There’s ways around that hun…………….”

      Speaking of dialogue, you did a great job on that, derrdevil. Looking forward to your next prompt.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        I meant to say seperate from story, not substitute. Sorry.

        • derrdevil says:

          Thanks so much. So glad that you got the idea of the characters. Dysfunctional. I wanted to show a wife who’s tries too hard to keep things together, and a husband that couldn’t care less. She has hope for the future, no matter how futile. He’s over cynical and tries to find fault in everything to make up excuses for his own lack of effort.

          And thanks for the tips. They are gold. I’ll bear them in mind for the next one.

          Really chuffed that you are enjoying them. I’m doing something right :)

    • Rose Harper says:

      This was good.

  5. wohisme says:

    “Oh…, you shouldn’t have… h – o – n – e – y”

    “Isn’t it great!”

    “Great’s… not the word that comes to mind.”

    “You don’t seem happy.”

    “Happy’s not the word that come to mind either. It’d been nice if you had mentioned it before you invested our life savings.”

    “It’d been nice if you had mentioned you were investing my inheritance in tech stocks just before the bubble burst.”

    “You know, it’s starting to look better.”

    “I thought it might.”

    “It’s an abandoned warehouse.”

    “Yeah!”

    “At an old train yard.”

    “What’s your point?”

    “My point! Clearly we can not live here.”

    “Who are you? Clearly, you are not the adventurous man I married.”

    “Oh please! I have this thing about running water and things that go flush in the night.”

    “It reminds me of our first place in Hicksville on the Long Island Railroad’s Ronkonkoma line.”

    “Near, not on! It was a house, a real house with water and electricity.”

    “You know how much you love that HGTV show You Live Where?”

    “Be realistic, this is an abandoned warehouse at an old train yard for God sake.”

    “We can park a trailer on the property while we work on it.”

    Exasperated and violating the fourth wall concept he turns to face the audience / reader, “I give up! I have no idea where all this is going.”

    Bewildered, she looks to the audience and then at him, “How the Hell should I know it’s your prompt! It’s you’re universe you are all powerful, figure it out!”

    “I got nothing. I was hoping if I started it would lead me somewhere. There’s no beginning; no middle; no end; no protagonist; no antagonist; no point!”

    “If you’re looking for an argument…”

    “I was MIA last week when I had to come up with someone’s handwritten journal and now this, it’s discouraging.”

    “Suck it up Writer’s Block Breath and put something on paper – well, I don’t mean paper in a literal sense.”

    Turning from the audience he struggles to get back in character, “Forget about it let’s get back to this terminal disaster.”

    She tries to inspire him, “It’s like your stories, it’s only limited by your imagination and we can always get a script consultant or architect, to help us get over the bumps.”

    “I have to admit, it is exciting to think about.”

    “Okay now, along with everyone else, I am confused. Are we talking about this feeble excuse of a response or this feeble excuse of an abode?”

    “You cut me that time… of course we are talking about the possibilities about restoring this once…” grimacing as if he is trying to convince himself, “grand structure.”

    “Don’t get carried away, it’s not New York’s old Penn Station. As for the prompt, it’s not like you’re writing about wizards or vampires or…” blushing “…bondage fantasies. Still, it could be your muse”

    “That’s your job. Okay, what ifs. What if it’s haunted or a time portal or on top of an oil field or… or… or…”

  6. soochybee says:

    The blindfold was tight around my eyes and the air around me seemed musty. I squirmed impatiently. “Can I take it off yet?” My husband Paul waited a beat before slowly undoing the blindfold, clearly enjoying this little game a bit too much. He pulled off the blindfold with a flourish. “Tada!! It needs just a little work done, but…welcome home, honey!”
    In an instant, I knew where I was. My knees went weak, and I sank to floor, wildly grasping at the air around me for some support. He knew. How could he? I’d never told a soul about what I’d seen from the window of the dark, abandoned warehouse. I’d spent years shoving the memory deep, deep down into the furthest corner of my mind. How could this be? I lay down on the dust covered floor, barely noticing the dirt and debris I was laying in. My husband pulled me up, a concerned look on his face.
    “Are you ok?!?”
    “Please don’t turn me in” I whispered. “I-I only saw it happen, I swear I didn’t do anything!!!”
    Paul wiped the dust off of my face and sat me down on a rickety chair. “Shay, what the hell are you talking about?!?” Is this some twisted way of telling me you don’t like it?”
    Something stirred in my mind and I started breathing again. So, he didn’t know. Whatever led him here, my sweet husband was just trying to build us a home. I forced a laugh. “Gotcha!! good acting, huh, babe? It was just…the feel of the place, like they filmed a crime movie here. I couldn’t resist. Sorry!”
    I looked into his face, hoping he bought it. For a second he looked suspicious, and then his features relaxed again. He pushed me playfully. “You scared me half to death! I didn’t know you had it in you. Come on, let’s go home. The last 90 seconds exhausted me.”
    Relieved, I linked arms with Paul. Thank god that was over. I leaned my head against his shoulder, and we walked the two blocks to the car. Paul pointed to a sign on a bus stop bench a couple feet down. “That’s the guy that sold me the place!” I half glanced at the picture, not really caring. I froze when I saw the face. HIM. Every muscle in my body froze in terror and it all became clear. HE tracked me down. HE found Paul. and HE convinced him to buy the very warehouse where IT happened. The message was clear. He was back. And he was after my family….

  7. rynsp8 says:

    “This is it? You emptied all of our savings for a run-down warehouse? Are you out of your mind!?” I said.

    “Don’t say that. Don’t say that to me! I’m trying my best to help.” She said.

    “How does this help!?” Raising my hands, my voice banging off the abandoned steel. “Oh my God, this can’t be happening.”

    “Baby, baby, calm down. Okay? Just calm down. You know we had to start over, we did. That’s what the doctor said was best. I need to start over and I thought that this was our chance to finally be happy. Just like we used to be, remember?” Her eyes looked at me, big, glazed, reflecting my enraged face back at me.

    “Start over! How many times have you hit reset on your life!? Yoga instructor! Your organic spice kiosk in the mall! Pet grooming! You gave up on being a teacher!” Volcanoes don’t burn this hot. “You know what? Enjoy your new beginning, your new dirt floors, the rats and hoboes can keep you warm at night, because I’m gone. I’m tapping out.”

    Making my way through the maze of turned over shopping carts and water logged pallets she choked out after me, “I’m pregnant…”

    And there’s the eruption, “I don’t believe you!

    “I am.”

    “How about that, I don’t believe you!” The fire burned good.

    “I am.” She sobbed!

    “You weren’t pregnant when the scouts came around to watch me play! You weren’t pregnant when I got my scholarship! And you’re certainly not fucking pregnant now! Cause my dad made me get a vasectomy freshman year! So your little bastard ain’t mine!” How good did I feel in that moment? Firing on all cylinders, burning through her pathetic tears and weeping frame, I was high on vengeance. “Four months married and you’re already sleeping around.”

    “MY MOTHER MADE ME GET TUBECTOMY! She was afraid that I’d get pregnant my first semester so she made me get one or I’d be on my own.”

    And there it was.

    “I see things, okay!? I know I’m crazy, but I’m not! I hear a voice tell me to do things and I do them because if I don’t, I just know I’m going to die.” I have never heard honesty in anyone’s voice like that. It was a tangible light that came right at my face and burned through me.

    That light grew brighter until I realized that she was letting off a light. Only it wasn’t her. Someone else was there with us and he looked in me. The dilapidated, filthy frame that we stood in wasn’t so dirty anymore, and I knew my purpose. This woman was my wife. And I’d take care of her. Crazy or not.

    • starwatcher says:

      rynsp8, that was really good, I liked this supernatural-baby-twist-thing with the crazy wife. And what messed up parents, fixing their children when they’re so young!

  8. AlaskasOwn says:

    I for one do not like surprises and so when my wife told me she had a surprise for me and that I should climb into the passenger’s seat an unnerving feeling akin to fright crept into the pit of my stomach. First off, she never drives and that alone was cause for concern. Secondly, the importance of her surprise rose to a new level when she handed me a blindfold as she sat herself behind the steering wheel.
    “Tadaa!” she cried whipping off my blindfold.
    I can still remember how her voice echoed in that vast chamber. I was looking out across a field of cement marked by various piles of junk and debris to worthless for even homeless vandals to pick at.
    “What is this Jules?”
    “Do you like it?” she said with a gleeful smile.
    “What’s to like?’
    “Well I was hoping you would like it because really, there’s no place like home.” She stretched out her arms offering the vacant building to me. My mouth dropped open.
    “It’s- um- What is it?”
    “It’s our new home.”
    “Jules, we just finished the renovations on our new apartment.” I tried to explain. Clearly the woman, who I passionately called my wife, was having a medical crisis having lost her mind, hopefully only temporarily.
    “The renovations really boosted the value on the place. We are already going to make more than we paid for it. That, plus most of what was left in our bank account paid for the whole place!”
    She came to my side, fearing that I might fall over. With the way I was feeling, it was totally possible.
    “You- all of the money?”
    “Trust me, I have big plans for this place.”
    Outside, I could hear the rumbling of a train clacking by.
    “Is this the train yard?”
    “It’s the only place that would work for what I have planned.”
    “I never should have signed onto that joint account.”
    “Trust me,” she said with a hug. With great trepidation, I did.

    We had been living on cots in the one corner that now resembled a spot of home in a gloomy concrete wasteland. Julie woke up early that day to go to the local market while I slept in. Sleep proved a great escape from my new nightmarish living situation. I stretched out catlike and rolled from my cot to my feet before screaming and falling from my feet to the cot then the cot to the hard floor. In front of me, eight strangers lay in wait. They looked nervous when I laid eyes on them and now they looked as scared as I was.
    “Who are you people?!”
    One dark, mustachioed man came forward with placating hands, “No habla Englaise. Donde Julia?”
    Living in southern Cali, you pick up a little Spanish. Where did you come from? I asked.
    In Spanish he answered, “The train, brought us across the border.”
    My stomach churned, I couldn’t wait to hear the rest of Julia’s plans.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      OMG! An underground railroad in modern times. I really like your style of writing, it shows a lot of polish. The story is very good and I’m waiting for the next chapter. It could go either way, a nightmare or being awarded a civil prize. Looking forward to your next response.

      • AlaskasOwn says:

        Thank you for the feedback, its’ always good to see what people think either way. I might have to grow this one beyond the one scene and find out where it all can take us.

    • starwatcher says:

      Shame on you Julia! Shame! Not telling your husband these secret plans of yours? I don’t think this’ll turn out well for anyone.

      I loved story.

  9. bewell says:

    I’ve always liked trains, and that’s why when I first laid eyes on the piece of shit that swallowed my life’s work whole I could only past it, beyond it, onto the tracks. All I could think of was the incessant power and steam that passed through here every day, like a recursive river that somehow rolled over and through again and again, pulling itself along and leaving nothing but dry land behind in its orbit. Trains are a very different means of mechanical travel, when you think about it. Cars, you speed up, you slow down, you blare music, you flip the bird, you’re in control. In a plane you’re suspended in the middle of nowhere, paradoxically squeezed in with a bunch of other helpless human beings who all smell of that airy, discontinuous fresh smell of rental cars and the laminated, muffled sweet smell of tourist pamphlets. But on a train, you’re on the Earth, you’re in control, but you’re letting life just plug along, grinding smoothly and steadily on a fixed path to another place. There’s no anxiety there, no frustration with the prospect of a halted journey, there’s only a capsule of time and space, through plains and traffic stop lights and non-renewable resources into another area of time and space. What I wouldn’t give to just travel everywhere by train, to plug along in the silent company of others, cold and little dismayed at the lack of privacy, into a new life at whim, a life that given the aesthetics of the means it took to get there seems planned even if it wasn’t.
    Where was I? Oh right? I looked beside myself at Allison, who interpreted my silent stare as a means of communicating that I was in fact beside myself at the prospect of moving into aforementioned piece of shit. Allow me to explain. Earlier this week my wife kicked my feet off the table and gave me a playful wack with the dust brush we use for our shelves. She tossed it aside and straddled me and put her hands on my shoulders. I love Allison. She was wearing her conservative but still dipping while blouse with fitting jeans, and a melded black and brown hair band that buried itself in her strawberry blonde hair from one end of her head to the other.
    She kissed me with a perfunctory, erratic sort of sweetness. I knew right then we weren’t going to make love. It was a lead in kiss, a jab meant to open me up. It worked. I spoke first.
    “Am I in trouble?”
    She tilted her head sideways, as if she were lazily keeping a secret.
    “Yes.”
    There must be some “we” in “I” that I don’t know about. Allison had bought some piece of shit house of the tracks with all our life savings. She took me there and all I could do was stand there on watch the tracks, oblivious to my derailed life.

    • starwatcher says:

      Wow. Great description and I liked the attitude of the MC. I was a little lost on the last sentence, but regained my balance. Maybe try to read through the story a second time? Overall, very good.

  10. Leanderdias says:

    YOUR NEW HOME

    “Clare…I have something to tell you.” I said as i walked in to the kitchen.

    Clare was bent over the sink washing dishes, her head oscillating to some song she was listening to through her earphones. I watched her for a second, feeling a guilty about what i was to tell her. She was a good wife, a loyal one; she didn’t deserve a husband like me.

    “Clare!”

    “Oh finally!” she said, finally acknowledging my presence, “There’s this great place out by the train tracks i want you to see. It may be a little out of budget, but if you like it, we’ll find a way.”

    I opened my mouth but could’t find words to say, so just I nodded, took down the address and walked out of the house, all the while kicking myself for not coming right out and saying what i had to say. It was a regular feature of our relationship, me doing whatever she wanted. There is no good that comes from arguing with Clare. She always won in the end, whether by emotional blackmail or by just being excruciatingly right. I hated her but i was too much of a coward to do anything, at least of course, until recently.

    I parked my old Volvo sedan by the derelict train tracks and procured the house keys from an old hackneyed security guard that was dozing in his little cabin. He didn’t seem particularly interested in showing me around so i let him be and walked on. I looked around for the house i was expecting, a small wooden cottage by the track that would be ideal for a couple to raise a family. Clare wanted to start a family. I guess she saw me no more as tool for which she would be able to efficaciously manufacture babies. When i thought about it, ever since our marriage was arrange by our parents, she always treated me as if i was all i was supposed to do. Drive the car, Maintain the house, Go to work and pay the bills. It seemed that only recently did she realize that i was an essential part of the family starter kit. Our marriage consummation was the last time we had sex, so in all truth, she drove me into our neighbor Sarah’s vagina.

    There were no houses nearby but for an average sized warehouse that looked shabby and well worn. When i turned the key in the lock the door eased open with a loud squeak that echoed within the warehouse. One look and i knew this had to be some kind of joke. The walls were more cracked than smooth, the floor boards were rotten and the roof from the inside was a variegated mess of spiderwebs and mildew. But the smell was what got to be. It reminded me of the smell of fat uncle Billy’s rancid farts that escaped his pants after a large breakfast of eggs and bacon. I stomped out with the keys still in the door incensed and purposeful.

    I screeched into the garage and indignantly made my way into the living room. Clare sat waddling a wineglass that seemed too large for her petite hands. She watched me with a wry smile on her face as if she was waiting for me all this time.

    “What’re you playing at Clare?! There’s no way we’re moving in to that piece of –”

    “Well that’s too bad!” Clare viciously interposed, “I bought it already. It took all we had…”

    “All we–”

    “Mike, I know about you and Sarah…”

    Glass shattered in my head and the sadistic smile Clare wore on her face became more and more clear to me. Fear began to slowly envelope me as my mind dawned upon the conclusion. ‘All we had’ basically meant ‘all I had’. I couldn’t see any way out of it.

    “C-Clare are you insane ?!”

    She let out a loud deranged cackle, “What do you think husband?”

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      Claire may be heading for a shallow grave behing the tool shed. Nice story here. A little tweak here and there will help the read better. Capitalize the I’s inside your story. It stops the reader’s eye. The third paragraph will work better if you divide it. “When I thought about it….,” would be a good place.where you might begin a new paragraph.

      You’ve done a great job of letting the reader into both character’s personalities. The story line is excellent and I really like the ending, how you let the reader finish with his own imagination.

    • Great story! The weight of the narrator’s sadness and guilt was all-consuming, making the ending as much a surprise for the reader as for the narrator.

    • Micki Miley says:

      Clare is one scary bitch! I really like the lead through the emotions of both characters. Just some grammar errors to fix and easily done. I enjoyed the story and would enjoy an expansion which is what a short story should do!

  11. RORY LOVES HELEN
    ==================

    He said is wasn’t safe anymore to stay in the city, to pack up an overnight bag and meet him at this address. I checked the phone again; the text read 132 Old Pier Road. This was the spot.

    Shaking my head, I parked the car across the tracks in front of the decrepit building and reached into the glove box for a flashlight. My hand shook as I found it and the pistol we kept, the muzzle dragging heavily on the plastic. Tucking the flashlight under my chin, I fumbled for the ammunition and took the time to load.

    What the Hell was going on? Rory was babbling a fit when we talked. We’d have to sell the house, but there wasn’t time. He made arrangements. We’d have plenty of space to raise kids. This old warehouse better not have been it. All our savings that weren’t lost to the lawyers were tied up in the condo.

    I walked around the building. His truck wasn’t here and I was all alone. The cell wouldn’t work, probably a dead zone. The word ‘dead’ sent a shiver up my spine.

    Twilight was rapidly greeting the night and I started to get cold. Grabbing my cardigan from the front seat, I flicked on the light and went to the small warehouse door. To my surprise, it opened and I felt a warm heat from the barrel-fire at the center of the space. I made out several large shadows milling about.

    “Helen!” yelled Rory. “Run! It’s too late. They got-.” He was cut off by a loud wet thump, and I saw an occupied chair fall over roughly. Two dark shapes loomed over top. I ran forward into the firelight as the larger one kicked Rory in the stomach.

    “No,” I squeaked as I was grabbed from behind and thrown to the floor, my head hitting the crumbling concrete. I passed out.

    Opening my eyes proved difficult; the headache and blurred vision made me nauseous. My tongue felt thick, sore and swollen; I must’ve bitten it. My mouth was dry, lips stuck together with dried spittle. I tried to swallow but nearly choked with the taste of blood.

    I couldn’t move my limbs and had no idea if I was upright or not. Panicked, I tested my bindings.

    Someone must have heard me and came over. The cool metallic lip of a water bottle stung, but I drank greedily. I tried to focus on the water-bearer’s face; it was a misshapen wreck of purple and red.

    “Rory…” I began.

    “Shhh,” he said, “they’ll kill us both.”

    “Who?” I whispered.

    Rory looked over his shoulder at the muscle watching. “You know exactly ‘who’. Should never have believed that they could protect us. I love you, Helen. Remember that.”

    “I love you too,” I said.

    Those were the last words he spoke, to me or anyone. He was hauled away and duct tape was placed in my mouth.
    I watched and wanted to scream. Rory screamed enough for the both of us.

    ***

    Chief Prosecutor John Powers saw the package on his desk as soon as he opened the door. His stomach sank and his heart threatened to choke him as he popped the tape and lifted the lid. On top was a small folded note accompanying what certainly resembled a tongue.

    The unsigned note read: ‘I regret that Rory will not be testifying today. You will get a call from his pretty wife shortly with instructions. PS: Say hi to Sarah.’

    This is probably the opener to 4 other related pieces I wrote in this story from prompts this year. They kinda each stand alone at this stage and the reading order doesn’t matter yet.

    http://www.writersdigest.com/prompts/the-missing-shoe#comment-3396485

    http://www.writersdigest.com/prompts/the-mysterious-men#comment-3400540

    http://www.writersdigest.com/prompts/the-man-in-the-park#comment-3401905

    • Sorry I’ve been scarce the last few weeks. But hey, our anthology is now launched. Go me!

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        It’s brilliant Doug. I didn’t see your post and it came from nowhere on the prompt. It’s spooky. Do have a reverse time machine you’re posting with. On to the prompt.

        “My hand shook as I found it and the pistol we kept, the muzzle draging heavily on the plastic,” This is magic. The last line, “I watched and wanted to scream. Rory screamed enough for the both of us.” This is horrific, my stomack’s churning.

      • frankd1100 says:

        A study of terror… Not so far from reality I’m afraid.

        Darkly entertaining…

    • Victor says:

      Great action writing, Doug. Even the basic-info moments have a lively, original feel. And you have a deft touch at making the horror grow big. The restraint of “Rory screamed enough for both us” triggers quite a nightmare vision in the reader’s mind.

      You make it hard to nitpick but, particularly when I like the writing, I’m determined to try!
      - Instead of “The word ‘dead’ sent a shiver up my spine.” maybe just “A sudden shiver went up my spine”? I thought “The word ‘dead’” sat a little oddly after the previous sentence.
      - I wasn’t sure about the term “muscle” coming from Helen.

  12. Icyss says:

    As I walk down the street, I stumble multiple times due to my temporary blindness. He is holding his gloved hands over my face, and I am smiling giddily like a three year old with a lolly pop. We had eloped two months ago. It was a quiet wedding, no one in our families knew. If they did, well…Anyways, with a baby on the way, we had decided that our apartment was not the proper environment for a growing child, and agreed to get a new house, and he had decided to go and buy it without me. I am nervous, but glad that he’s taken the news so lightly. When we finally reach the area, I’m ready to explode with the warm suspense that fills me, and prepare to let out a surprised gasp.
    I could see again. I looked at the thing that stood in front of me. It was a small, beaten down shack that looked worthy of hiding bodies in some sort of a murder mystery, and it had to be smaller than our apartment.
    I smiled, and then laughed, nuzzling his shoulder lightly in appreciation of the joke.
    “I knew you’d like it.” he kissed my hair lightly and wrapped a single arm around my waist.
    “Oh…” He was serious.
    “Honey….It’s wonderful…”
    “Just wait until you see the inside!”
    He lead me inside, while on the way explaining how he had afforded the many acres of land.
    “Life savings. Thank, you!”
    “Eheh…”
    Looking in, though, the scene was different. It was huge, with a decent sized hallway and beautiful furnishing. When he took me back outside again, he walked over to the outside of the shack and pulled. What appeared to be a huge canvas fell forward, and revealed the actual house.
    “You thought we were going to live in a shack off the side of a train track, didn’t you?” he asked, eyes laughing.
    “Heh… nice one. Hey, I’m glad- oh.” Tears formed at the corners of my eyes, but they were happy tears. He was down, bending on one knee before me, a small but beautiful ring in his hand.
    “Let’s do this. For real.” He was looking at me with such incredible hope, that the reply was almost caught in my throat.
    ” Of course, you dope! Best pickup line ever. I love you.”
    He stood up, slid the ring onto my finger, and kissed me gently on the lips.

    _____________

    So, here’s a random short. A lot less depressing than my usual, so expect something really dark next week, Muahahaha.

  13. agnesjack says:

    TAKE #2 — NIGHT

    Candice took a sip of her martini, plucked out an olive with her fingers and popped it into her mouth.

    “Shall I tell you how I came to be here, Meg darling?” she asked.

    “If you want to,” Meg said, feeling a little uncomfortable. Candice had invited her out to the warehouse loft that she and her late husband had spent five years renovating. Meg and Candice had been friends in high school, but in the years that followed, they drifted apart. Candice was a social climber and Meg just wasn’t into that world.

    “You’ll need a drink,” Candice said. “Martini, O.K.?”

    “Sure,” Meg said to be sociable, “but no olives, please.”

    “Olives are the best part of a martini,” Candice said over her shoulder as she went to the kitchen. She came back with Meg’s full glass, the cocktail shaker and a jar of olives. She put three more olives into her own glass and topped it off.

    “Arthur adored this place.” Candice said. “He’s the one who saw the potential. I was horrified when he brought me here the first time and told me that he had sold our penthouse. We had to practically live in a tent in the beginning. He wouldn’t let me stay at the Plaza because he wanted me to experience the birth of our new home. He had such an odd sense of humor, don’t you think?”

    “I didn’t really know him that well,” Meg said.

    “No?” Candice said. “I thought you knew each other in college. Northwestern wasn’t it?”

    “That was so long ago,” Meg said. “The last time I saw him was at your wedding.”

    “Indeed,” Candice said. “Well, he always used to mention you. He said you made a brilliant speech once about renewing our resources, or something like that. He said he never forgot it.”

    “I’m flattered that he remembered,” Meg said, honestly surprised.

    “I suspect that’s why he wanted to buy this rathole. Renewing an old, dilapidated resource.” Candice downed her martini and poured another.

    “My God, this was a dump when he first showed it to me. My penthouse overlooked the Hudson River. It had nine rooms, a maid’s quarters and a two-tiered patio. Our parties were legendary. Just everyone would come.”

    “Sounds very nice,” Meg said. She wasn’t used to drinking and was beginning to feel a little whoozy.

    “Yes,” Candice said. “It was heaven.”

    “Well, this is nice, too. Arthur did a beautiful job with the renovation,” Meg said.

    “Yes. It was an obsession — a fucking midlife crisis. He spent all his time AND his money on it,” Candice said, and then laughed in a way that was not normal.

    Meg couldn’t focus. Candice’s pale, twisted face was fading in and out.

    “I’m not feeling well,” Meg said and fell to the floor.

    “I suspect not,” Candice said, standing over her. “Now, my darling friend whose idealistic pipe dreams ruined my life, YOU are going to become a renewable resource. Ashes to ashes, darling.”

    And that was the last thing Meg heard.

  14. frankd1100 says:

    I walked through puddles of oily water avoiding sharp edged twisted scrap metal strewn about the floor. Water seeped from the corrugated roof and ran suspended along the underside of metal I-beams until weight overcame viscosity and heavy droplets fell twenty feet splatting onto the concrete floor below.

    Tall windows lined both sides of the building. The sills were set six feet off the floor and the glass panes at one time reached another eight feet toward the roof. There had been room below the windows to set machinery against the walls and bright natural light for workers. Smashed window glass lay in dagger like shards on the floor or leaned against bottom walls. The double thick red brick walls, however, remained intact standing plumb and true along both sides of the building.

    “Well?” Anne asked following my dazed meandering across ten thousand square feet of dank ruins.

    “Is there a way out of this, Anne?”

    “Nope, we own it,” she said.

    “Did you consider calling me before you spent our 401K?”

    “I didn’t have time Gerry. Two other groups were bidding on it. I thought I’d lose it.”

    “Anne, this is five times the size of our apartment. What were you…”

    “More like eight times after the second level is added,” she said. “We’ll sell four units to get the investment back and the rest will be an annuity.”

    She stood close looking up at me with not a tinge of concern in her sparkling blue eyes.

    “Do you see it Gerry,” she said? “For a little risk we’ll have a cool place to live and make some money from the pieces we sell or rent out!”

    “A little risk, Anne? You just put our savings down on this place. We’ll have to pitch a tent here when the landlord kicks us out of the apartment for nonpayment of rent and…”

    “Gerry,” she said, lowering her voice. She put her arms around my neck and pressed tightly against me, patient with my lack of vision. “Trust me on this Gerry. I know what I’m doing.”

    I was afraid I’d lose my temper and say something damaging so I listened as she explained her plan to build eight condominiums in the space. She’d then sell four, rent three and keep the eighth, a large unit she was designing for us.

    “Anne, there’s a permitting process that…”

    “Done,” she said.

    “What about the cost of rehabbing the building and constructing the units?”

    “A million bucks,” she said. “I have a partner who’ll put up cash. I’m the general contractor and the crews are ready to start.”

    She was smiling at my confusion. She wouldn’t say so but I knew she was tired of waiting for me to act and in her inimitable style had taken the leap. I began to sense she could do this. In the end, I wanted to be with her. There was nothing left but to hang on for the ride.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      Great story Frank.
      Anne is my kind of woman. Smart, assertive and warm to the touch obviously. Being a general contractor, we have redone warehouses like this and you’re right on with the descriptive prose of the warehouse; left me in awe. Especially the way the water ran on I beams and splashed on the floor.

      The only problem is if Anne runs off with the partner with the million clams.k

    • don potter says:

      Your description made me feel as if I was walking through that wet, grim warehouse. After the financial situation was laid out, I could not imagine this scenario would turn out favorably. But you did it. The final line was a promise as well as a warning, “hang on for the ride.” Nicely done.

    • agnesjack says:

      Very good story, frank. Your descriptions were wonderful. I really could see the space.

      I wasn’t sure how you were going to get out of the money problem, but you did. I think the line, “she was tired of waiting for me to act,” said it all.

    • I liked this write, Frank. I have a little trouble believing that Anne could do so much legwork and he not know, but, as they say, never underestimate a determined woman,

  15. Stormsent says:

    The Clock

    She was cold, shivering and had goose bumps. Her nails; bluish. Nauseated, she had not eaten. She had not eaten during the last few days. Her breathing labored; short, shallow, airless breaths. She closed her eyes but her insides still fluttered. Eyes opened. As it was with eating, she had not been able to sleep. The ringing in her ears was deafening, yet she still heard a clock ticking… somewhere. She knew this day would come and time took so long for it to arrive. Time no longer hesitated. Time had picked up its pace. And now, yes, now she wanted it to move even faster. Lightheaded; time led her along.

    Shivering morphed into trembling. The room was small and startlingly bright. Fluorescent buzzing faded in and out, mixing with the ringing in her ears. Her eyes widening; darting about, but not focusing. The curtains were drawn closed. With a slow, deep, breath she closed her eyes once more. Again, she heard a clock ticking… somewhere. She was sliding backwards; her feet not moving, to the table. Arms spread from her sides; she was leaving this place.

    Strapped. Left arm cuffed. Rubber band tightened; needle inserted into her right arm. Taped to hold it and the last of her life, in line. Band removed. Saline pushed through the tubing, opening her vein. The table tilted forward and the curtains opened. She was displayed.

    Her heart beating fast; her temples pounding. She felt like she was under water. A garbled voice was heard, “Last words….?”

    Memories fanned across her mind. One rolling into another, like cards on a Rolodex. Childhood and teenage pictures. Young adult and Rick pictures. Rick pictures….

    Getting out of the car, she could not believe she had entertained the idea. Selling her house, the one he had moved into and made his. His, not ours. He told her she would love his new idea, the new house. Walking into the warehouse, shaking her head. She remember his trying to convince her that this warped, sheet metal, un-inviting building could be transformed into a home. This was not the same as converting loft space into a fashionable, trendy abode. Unacceptable. If they had children, where would they play? On the train tracks? She turned abruptly, facing him. Clearly, her disapproval visible across her face.

    “ This doesn’t deserve my consideration.”, fists appearing. That ticking clock. Again.
    “Not settling for this. You’ve lost your frigging mind!”, she asserted.

    He said nothing, a blank expression, except for the smirk of a smile.

    “I want my share of the bank account.”, arms crossed in front of her.

    “ You have no share. Your money was withdrawn and sits in my account. Marcie perfected your signature.”

    Walking to a work bench, she felt him behind her, close. Tools left on bench; she eyed the large wrench. Turning, the wrench found his head, splitting skull. Grey matter splattered and mixed with blood.

    “Any words?”

    She whispered, ” I haven’t finished yet…Marcie.”

    Table tilting back, she saw the room’s clock. The cocktail entered her vein. The clock stopped.

    • don potter says:

      You captured what a person might think before their execution. It’s disturbing and morbidly fascinating. I particularly liked the word graphic of cards on a Rolodex.

      • Stormsent says:

        I’m glad you were able to appreciate the Rolodex. Showing my ‘old school’. I still find them invaluable. I’m not sure generation X,Y,Z or whatever, would even know what one was.,

    • agnesjack says:

      Wow. Very unique take on the prompt, stormsent.

    • frankd1100 says:

      “…if they had children, where would they play?” The juxtaposition of concern for the safety of children and the capacity to bash her husband’s skull in is grotesque. You have a dark side, Stormsent. A gift for a writer…

      I can’t get out of my head the image of her strapped to the table as it’s tilted up so she and the witnesses are staring at each other.

      Good job.

      • Stormsent says:

        I thank-you all for taking the time to read and comment. I spent a good amount of time viewing execution rooms (on line). It was disturbing and I had to bang this out quickly to get it out of my mind. In 1976 I did observe the well used electric chair at N.C. State prison. “Green Mile” twin….

    • starwatcher says:

      Nice job Stormsent. My first impression was that the MC was kidnapped or a hostage. Good execution of the story. (Pun intended.)

    • Pure terror. Wow. I had to read it a second time to get that this was her execution. The images and flashes were great.

    • Victor says:

      You wield the hardest of hardboiled styles to good effect. For me, the third paragraph stood out as clearly the best – the focus, the relentless drive of it. And “Taped to hold it and the last of her life, in line.” is very good (although, was the comma needed?)

  16. starwatcher says:

    “It’s great,” is all I said.

    All I was allowed to say.

    “The rest of the family will love it, won’t they, honey?” said Charlie as he walked around the perimeter of the large warehouse.

    I thought groggily as I gawked at the rusty warehouse, that I didn’t see the logic of buying a massive warehouse that we would be staying in for maybe a week. A cheap hotel room maybe, or rent a house, but buying a warehouse? That didn’t make sense. Charlie had been acting erratically for a while now, but I just thought he was going through a phase. I still couldn’t do anything about it.

    “It’s great.”

    “Go to the car, Linda,” ordered Charlie, “and wait for me there.”

    Here I was again, being ordered around. I needed to get away. Charlie needed to stop hurting me. But what could I do? I thought bleakly. I sat next to Leslie with her dark, wavy hair that I was jealous about. She’s always chosen to do errands and stuff, and I get to stand around with him. Maybe it was because Leslie enjoyed being with Charlie more than she did. I sighed. It started raining.

    Charlie jogged toward us, getting out of the rain, and sat in the driver’s seat. He turned to us and said that the rest of the family would meet at this address as he pointed to the map. My vision, I realized, was a little blurry.

    “OK, good.”

    We arrived across the street from the house. The time was maybe ten o’clock, I couldn’t tell. The house was in a wealthy neighborhood, it always was.

    Another car down the street flashed its lights in the rain. The rest were here. Charlie turned off the car and signaled us to get out. Leslie giggled. The others came out and headed to the side door of the house. He checked the door, unlocked. Idiots.

    We entered the house silently, as a team. We headed toward the bedroom where we knew the pig and his wife were asleep.

    We all stood in the bedroom watching them breath. In…out. In…out. Leslie was getting too excited. I stood next to Charlie, just watching. At least I had that in common with him, I was patient. The others were impatient; they wanted the fun to start.

    Charlie moved forward suddenly and knelt next to the wife. He roughly grabbed her throat, silencing her screams. “Shhhhhh, hello there,” he said gently, “We know who you are, Rosemary, and your husband too. My name is Charles Manson, and this,” he gestured to us, “is my family.”

    • snuzcook says:

      Creepy! Great interpretation of the “new home” theme. Linda was a good observer/narrator for the story that is such a part of our cultural lexicon.
      Good job.

    • don potter says:

      Your take made me shutter. I saw the subtle reference to Roman Polanski, director of Rosemary’s Baby, and his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, killed in Manson’d bloodletting. Or, am I letting my imagination take me too far?

    • agnesjack says:

      Oh my. After all these years the thought of what Manson and his “family” did is still horrifying. Rosemary is of course Rosemary LaBianca, who, along with her husband, were killed after Sharon Tate. Their house was picked randomly. Very creepy take on the prompt, starwatcher. I’m going to have nightmares.

      • starwatcher says:

        Thanks so much everyone for your comments. I have not read really anything beyond two minutes of research about the victims and “the Family”. Actually, I was afraid that I didn’t have enough facts and/or references.

        Again, thanks.

    • starwatcher says:

      To everyone,

      I’m trying to improve my writing skills, so if you guys have any suggestions, it’s much appreciated. Thanks.

    • Awesome take on the prompt. Charles Manson is a fount of material.

    • Victor says:

      The writing style is fine – gets the story told and the mystery-horror unfolded at a good well-controlled pace.

      I did think one sentence needed work:

      “I thought groggily as I gawked at the rusty warehouse, that I didn’t see the logic of buying a massive warehouse that we would be staying in for maybe a week.”

      It’s a tad clunky – and didn’t really fit with the rest, which are neat and clean. (A comma after ‘groggily’ helps, but maybe it actually should be broken into two or three shorter sentences…?)

  17. Critique says:

    Your New Home

    He had chattered non-stop – to make up for her silence. The place would need a bit of TLC but he was prepared to work 24/7 to bring it up to the standard they liked. Then, they could flip it if they wanted to and make a bundle. If they did this enough times the outcome could only be positive. They would eventually own their dream home.

    Leaving the city behind and they drove into a train yard where old telephone poles leaned drunkenly along the cracked roadway. It was when their small car bumped over the third railway crossing that Christy felt the nausea. She gripped the armrest, lips compressed, and struggled for composure. They passed two rusted windowless boxcars – sitting forlornly amongst the tall grasses.

    In the distance was a vacant four storey warehouse, windows barred – the glass long since smashed out – it’s double doors a faded red blending with the old world brick and rusted pipes on the building.
    Seth parked next to it and killed the engine.

    “What’s going on behind that pretty little face?” His jovial tone was forced. “So what do think hon?”

    Christy struggled to quell the rage and panic. It wasn’t just about the money – although that loomed gigantically in the picture – but the fact he had signed the real estate deal without her. Weren’t they a team? And, she hadn’t told him yet.

    “You’ve got to see the potential of this place Christy. It’s a gold mine.” He opened the car door and got out.

    He leaned down to the window. “Aren’t you coming?”

    Christy forced herself to get out of the car and slammed the door behind her. She glared at Seth.

    “Right now I’m so mad at you.” She smacked her hand loudly against the roof of the car. “I can’t believe you did this without talking to me first. Have you any idea what you’ve done?”

    “Of course I’ve thought about it.” Seth’s face flushed with anger. “Give me some credit for making an investment into our future.”

    Christy held up her fist, thumb out extending each finger as she made a point. “First of all, we only have one vehicle. There is no bus or train service remotely close to this place. Two, my promotion means I need the car to service my clients. Three, we’re flat broke thanks to you wiping out our savings so we can’t buy another car. Four, we can’t afford two places.”

    Holding up her open hand she said. “ And certainly not least – what kind of time and skills do you possess to even think about fixing this dump?”

    “This could be our big break Christy.” Seth pleaded, his face flushed.

    She was shaking. Tears streamed down her cheeks.

    “And guess what. We’re having triplets.”

  18. snuzcook says:

    ONE OF THESE DAYS, ALICE

    “Whatcha got?” Dumfey looked down at the white outline. It was the shape of a man, but the telltale red blood stains shot out in all directions in a visual definition of ‘splat.’

    “Thought it was an accidental death, until we found these.” Barnes held up a blue-gloved hand to show him a fistful of screws.

    “Yeah?”

    “Someone tampered with that scaffolding. Eight out of ten screws were removed from the top rail.”

    Dumfey looked up. Investigators were dusting the entire length of the scaffolding. “What is that, twenty, twenty-five feet?”

    “Twenty-eight even. Took a dive face first onto concrete. Never had a chance.”

    “That his wife?” Dumfey indicated a small middle-aged woman standing just outside the loading dock with two uniformed officers. Barnes nodded.

    “Mrs. Wilson?” Dumfey introduced himself and dismissed the two officers with a nod. “Let’s sit over here. I’d like to talk to you.” He indicated a pile of wooden crates. She was a quiet, mousey woman. She looked forlorn. It was one of those words that he used seldom, but seemed to fit her perfectly: forlorn.

    “I’m very sorry for your loss,” he began. “What can you tell me about what happened?”

    Mrs. Wilson heaved a great sigh, glancing toward him, then back at her hands clutching her plain brown handbag. “You know, everything would have been okay if he just hadn’t decided to buy the warehouse. And even then, everything would have been okay, if he just hadn’t spent all our savings.”

    “Why don’t you just tell me what happened?”

    “It’s like I said. Everything might have been okay, if he hadn’t spent all our savings. And then it might even have been okay, living here in the little apartment in the back. It wouldn’t have been much to take care of, and I could have managed it. I’ve always tried to manage. Bud always had these schemes, and we always found a way to manage. So I guess it would have been okay.”

    “Would have been, except for what, Mrs. Wilson?”

    “Except for the rocket ship. That’s why he bought this place. That’s why he spent all our money. Have you ever seen the move “Astronaut Farmer?”

    Dunfey shook his head.

    “Well, Bud did. After that, he was obsessed. He came home last week and told me he had finally found the perfect place. He had already put all our money down, and even cancelled our lease. All that was left for me to do was pack.”

    “I’m not sure I understand.”

    “It might even have been okay then. It’s just when he said he had to cut a hole in the roof, I realized he had finally lost touch with reality. So I had to do it.”

    “Very slowly, Mrs. Wilson. What exactly did you do?”

    “I had to do it. There just was no other way.” She reached into her bag. “I suppose you’re going to want this.” She handed him a yellow-handled screwdriver.

    It was Dumfey’s turn to sigh.

    • snuzcook says:

      Author’s note: The title “One of these days, Alice,” may be a bit of a stretch if you’re not a classic TV fan. On the old Jackie Gleason, the Honeymooners, Ralph Cramden used to threaten his wife with the the phrase, “One of these days, Alice…to the moon!” implying that one day he would give her such a sock in the kisser he would send her to the moon. Now that I have explained it, perhaps it was too great a stretch to apply it here.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        It wasn’t a stretch at all. I enjoyed the story and the repetitiive statement Alice continued to use to express her plight. I think all her anger came to the surface after all those years and she just wanted to kill him. She knew she’d have to pay for the murder and it was okay with her as long as she was successful.

    • jhowe says:

      With or without the Honeymooners explanation, I sure did like your story. You write so effortlessly, or so it seems to the reader. The visual definition of splat was priceless. Good job snuzcook.

    • frankd1100 says:

      You sketch the detective’s attitude perfectly. Death even possible murder becomes routine, mundane, a series of formulaic steps that make an investigation. The ending is slightly different from the “Astronaut Farmer” but has that flavor.

      Nicely written.

    • don potter says:

      With the name Dumfey, I thought this was going to be one of your cartoon/animal stories, which I enjoy reading. So I went along for the ride and realized there is a bit of Agatha Christie in you.

      • snuzcook says:

        Thanks, Don. I guess I am still working on the classic icons, one way or another. Glad you enjoyed it.

      • snuzcook says:

        I suspected you were thinking of Susan’s excellent Tom and Jerry stories. But then again, I’ve been using everyone from Santa to the Easter Bunny, and Jack in the Beanstalk, so I wasn’t sure.
        Don’t know where Dumfey (Dunfey in one place) came from. My characters name themselves most of the time, and they don’t always let me in on the logic.

    • agnesjack says:

      I got the “One of These Days” reference immediately. I’m a big Honeymooners fan.

      I absolutely loved the repetition of the phrase, “might have been okay.” It carried the story along and the reader knew there was a big gigantic BUT coming up.

      Nicely done.

      • snuzcook says:

        Thanks, agnesjack. I had fun with her slightly ditsy circular justifications. It had a certain rhythm to it.

        • snuzcook says:

          Speaking of circular, has anyone else had this experience with the WD site? I logged in so I could make replies to these comments, but then when I chose the prompt heading, it said I had to log in to reply. So I hit ‘log in’ and it indicated that I was already logged in, so I went back to the prompt heading and it said I had to log in to reply….
          I had to close the site several times and wait a few hours before it untangled itself.

    • THis was fun. I had no idea where you were going from moment to moment until the moment happened. For this piece, it really worked.

      Excuse me while I head to the garage. Ignore the noise and lights. I may be up all night.

    • Susan says:

      I didn’t need to know about the old TV show to enjoy this one, Snuzcook – a real winner. Very entertaining, and I just love the last line.

  19. Svapne says:

    [Sorry, this is a little long. It's also my first time using HTML tags, so I hope the formatting works right.]

    I started with little things.

    I made coffee too strong, then too weak, and dubbed it perfect both times. I wore flannel and jeans and then blew a paycheck on designer shoes. I left the cat box for a week, then cleaned it twice a day. I went on a paleo diet then switched to vegan. I’d want missionary in the dark one week… alternatives the next. I ran hot and cold, in temperature and temperament.

    My husband adapted. He huffed something about hormones and pregnancy tests a few times, but then fell silent, somewhere between amused tolerance and vapid complacence.

    I upped the ante. I clung to him, even showed up at his work randomly. Then I pushed him away, spending whole nights out of the house. He questioned if I was faithful. I was pushing his limits, on purpose, but that was the one I couldn’t bear. I backed off for a while.

    Then opportunity fell into my lap. I was sure this one would work. I bought a goddamned warehouse with all our goddamned savings, and I presented it proudly, telling him that “well, we’ll have to save up again so we can fight to get the zoning changed from industrial to residential, but we can stay with relatives until then.”

    He broke down crying; I was so sure I’d won. But he didn’t scream “the woman I married wouldn’t do this shit!” He just left, and I got a call from the divorce lawyer hours later.

    And that was it. I lost.

    -

    I couldn’t leave the warehouse. I sat there for hours. A bum wandered in; I knew him well.

    I’d bought him a charity coffee. He’d sung some bullshit song about losing his situation due to false accusations and how, despite proof of innocence, his superiors wouldn’t risk it. He’d lost everything because of a rumor.

    He’d told me that it doesn’t matter one shit if you know you’re better than that, because if someone can believe it about you, you need to re-evaluate your life decisions.

    Then he ate a beetle off the sidewalk like it was a lady finger. I watched in that sort of not-looking-away-from-a-train-accident way.

    “Nobody sticks by anybody anymore” he’d said. Like the newlywed idiot I was, I’d argued the point. “Yeah, I bet” he’d said. And, an idiot, I accepted. I didn’t think anything could possibly come of such a ridiculous wager until he’d smiled.

    “Should’ve opened with this; might’ve worked” he says now, sitting next to me. He smells of piss. “One-hundred chances… one-hundred failures” he scolds, reminding me as though I could forget the deal.

    “See if he thinks you’re off your rocker, or if it’s you. But none of that possessed-pea-soup-and-acrobatics-bullshit: just you being not-quite-you” he’d said.

    “You don’t have to gloat.”

    “Sorry, it’s in my nature.”

    “But this wasn’t in mine!” I cry. “I hoped he knew me better… or that he would stick by me.”

    “Leopard changed her spots. This was icing on the cake, not a sudden 180.” There’s no amusement or mockery; he’s been through this too much to care anymore.

    “Look, you’ve won. Just take your prize.”

    He shrugs, uncaring. Then there’s a fiery slip and slide, and I fall all the way down.

    Instead of him returning there, I fall. That was the deal.

    • Victor says:

      You write really well – at a level that’s a pleasure to read. The strength of the story, for me, was the start – really piqued the curiosity, drew me in.

      Only one sentence – “I watched in that sort of not-looking-away-from-a-train-accident way.” – didn’t quite seem to work. (While I thought “possessed-pea-soup-and-acrobatics-bullshit” was a ripper.)

      • Svapne says:

        Thank you for your comments!

        The train accident sentence was a product of draft 1, where the hobo catches and eats a pigeon. I didn’t think she’d stick around to see that, though, and toned it down to him eating the bug. Is the cliche a little too severe for the scenario, and that’s why it doesn’t fit? Any critique is appreciated. :)

        Thanks!

    • frankd1100 says:

      A crazy in and out of the stratosphere, creative, risky piece of work… I love it!

    • PeterW says:

      Finally some good shit out of you Svapyyy. The italics I think are unnecessary, unless I’m missing something. So like the hippy/homeless dude is the devil or something and she bet him that her marriage was strong enough to get through a wtf-purchase-by-sig-other, and because she lost, she falls into hell. However the second part is not quite cohesive. Does the stuff in italics take place in the past?

      Anyhow I thought it was good especially the first part if that means anything. I thought the 2nd part was the just part of the twist everyone feels the need to add….

      • Svapne says:

        Well, I try to improve, so thanks PeterW. You’re right on about the devil thing, and the flashbacks. I lean toward the supernatural all the time, which is why the second half even exists. I bet it would work really well as just a bet though, with no supernatural anything. Good catch. :)

        The italics are, as you said, to emphasize the flashbacks; I’ve written a few things here with disjoints in time and a lot of people miss it.. To keep the word-count down, I used a ton of contractions so I wasn’t sure that the tense change was obvious enough. I was thinking about making it a 3-part story so the whole meeting-the-hobo scenario is at the end, making it all together and cohesive, but I wasn’t sure how to do it best. And I confess to not wanting to polish something that I didn’t see going anywhere.

        Any suggestions?

    • This started out very strong and got a little to metaphysical for my tastes towards the end. I think you need a bigger canvas to pull this off. The writing, descriptions and dialog are fantastic.

      • Svapne says:

        Thanks for the comments!

        As I said to PeterW, I didn’t polish it too much. I spent a while working the flashbacks in and paring down word count and declared it done. I knew I wanted the deal with the devil, the purchase, and the aftermath to all be there, and the first and last one got put together for the sake of brevity. If you have any suggestions as to how I could do it better, I’d love to hear them.

    • starwatcher says:

      I have to admit that I was a little confused and had to read, reread, and read it again (I’m a bit slow, sorry) to finally grasp the story. This is one of those times that I wish the word limit was a little bit longer. Now that I get it, the story is wonderful.

    • Susan says:

      This really drew me in, Svapne – powerful and intriguing, but I found it became a bit confusing and I was left unsure what was going on at the end. The looking away from a train accident image worked for me, by the way :)

      • Svapne says:

        I definitely need to look into how I could have integrated the three parts better. There’s the scene where she makes the deal with the devil, the growing shenanigans culminating in the warehouse purchase, and the resolution where the devil claims his prize. It was difficult to order without spoiling something too early, but the more I think about it the more I think I could improve.

        Suggestions are welcome.

    • lailakuz says:

      I really like this piece. I love the ambiguity and there were a few spots in the prose that I thought were really, really good. I like the supernatural aspect to this. My only suggestion would be to maybe provide the reader with some transition and clue them into what time period the italicized part took place in. But, this is like a modern Poe-story. Great job!

      • Svapne says:

        Thanks for your comments! The time period would be a pretty easy two word fix, too. “I bought him a charity coffee x years ago.” Or an addition of “my x-year marriage was ended with a call from the divorce lawyer.”

  20. PromptPrincess13 says:

    Still just the tiniest bit over the limit but I’m getting there.

    …………………
    Home on the Run.

    My mouth dropped open in disbelief, uncomprehending dread creeping its way into me as I saw what my life-savings had bought. My life savings. Everything I had- everything I’ve ever had.

    The walls of the warehouse were scarred and bruised, held upright by rust-freckled nails. The whole building sagged, draped over weakening support poles, ready to collapse without warning.

    The battered ground under my feet was dusty, clouding the white of my sneakers. The initial sense of dread and anger I’d first been hit with was draining from me, the livid dismay streaming itself through my veins, faltering.

    “You didn’t do this. Please, please tell me you didn’t do this, Ace.”

    “Miranda.” His eyes turned to mine, sending out blankets of soothing calm to soften my anger. The flash of emotion in his face made me close my eyes. “We couldn’t live there anymore. It was destroying us both.”

    “Exile does that to you.” I snapped, eyes glaring their way open, sudden fire sparking within me. “I’m not putting up with this. Exile, was bad enough, but you had to go and make it worse. What did you think you’d get by storming in there and blasting holes in the wall? Now we’re not just outcasts, we’re convicts, on the road, on the run- homeless.”

    Undulating rays of anger streamed from me, channels of frustration blasting open. “You dragged me into this! I didn’t do anything, nothing except love you, and try to help you. But you don’t want to be helped, and I’m sick of trying. I’m done.”

    I ripped away from him, running the memories of our love from my mind as I turned myself into wind, blowing away our history. Sharp lashes of air, whirling at the edges of my storm hit him hard as he tried to come after me, but it was too late: I was through.

    “I’m sorry.” Ace screamed, voice strong and clear through the roaring of rushing air around me.

    My storm dissipated, lowering me in my human form to the ground on light zephyrs of wind. The floor had been blown clear of dust by my wind’s strength, and slowly, each particle returned to its place, settling into where they’d lain for so long. Quiet fell.

    Ace had never apologized to me before. Never.

    I stared at my husband of a two and a half decades, the words dancing through my ears, ringing with sincerity that seemed to shake the dilapidated warehouse.

    “He-he told me that if we didn’t leave that morning, we’d never leave, ever again. That…our lives would ‘pay our rent’.”

    I cringed at the sick sense of humor I knew all too well.

    “This can be our home, not because it’s beautiful, but because this, this love, is.” He was standing close now, voice soft.

    “They can’t find us here. We’re safe, for better or for worse.”

    “How touching.” The voice crawled over us, chilling our blood.

    Ace and I turned as a unit, a single heart-beat speeding with fear, and anger neither of us had ever felt before. Can you blame us? How would you feel if someone broke into your home?

    • starwatcher says:

      Just one comment from the peanut gallery: maybe you could give the readers a little more information on the characters? And who is the creepy voice? Stalker? Landlord/seller? Crazy mother-in-law? I’m just wondering.

      • PromptPrincess13 says:

        You’re right, Starwatcher. I’ve never really done any mystery writing and reading back, I might have gone a little too far trying to make it mysterious. The characters were supposed to be a type of magicians and the creepy voice was someone trying to discover what was so different about them. Thanks for the comments, I really appreciate it!

  21. Ursula Queen says:

    “Perfect, isn’t it?” Pip’s dreamy voice held wonder and amazement for the crumbling structure in front of me. It stood there awkwardly in the bright sunlight, with dull brick walls that looked like it would fall apart any second. It looked more like a prison than a warehouse.
    I bit my lip, trying to squash down the annoyance and anger in my chest. I felt like a selfish ogre. Pip had supported me when I had decided to go to New York to pursue my degree in literature, selling his beloved family heirloom to cover the expenses. He was there for me when I had decided to follow my dream and open a cafe, he was there to wipe my tears when the cafe had to close down because we were broke. He didn’t say a word when I finally admitted to him that I couldn’t bear children on our wedding night, despite wanting children for years. He had held my hand, whispering to me that we could adopt, smiling ever so gently.
    But didn’t I have the right to blow up, to scream at him for using the ten thousand dollars I had spent my entire existence saving up? Didn’t I have the right to stomp my foot and to criticize him for buying this god damned house without consulting me? Didn’t I?
    I watched as he entered the house, breathing in deeply when he stepped in, as if the very smell of the house enchanted him. “Becky!” he beckoned me.
    I followed him inside, still unsure how to react. Yes, I finally decided. I did have the right to yell at him right now.
    But how many times had I deserved to be yelled at by Pip, only to be patiently and gently spoken to? I remembered accidentally spilling coffee on his new laptop, and him having to save up a for months for a new one. How many times had I thrown away his work papers or notes, thinking they were useless scraps of paper? And that time when I lost my engagement ring? He just laughed and shook his head, telling me jokingly that I was too careless.
    Marriage was about compromises and sometimes giving in to the other partner. Pip had done so much for me, had given in so many times.
    “What do you think?” Pip asked, turning to me.
    Say something! Just get the hell out of this ugly house! You’ve given in to him too! Something in me snarled.
    He clapped his hands eagerly, reminding me of a small child, and I knew that I could not take this away from him.
    “Rebecca?” his browned eyes turned serious when he noticed how watery my smile was. “Do you like it?”
    Tell him!
    I smiled as sweetly as I could. “I love it, Pip. I love it a lot,” I stretched my arms open wide, wishing that I really did love this Alcatraz. “I can’t wait to move in.”

    Sorry if it isn’t very good

  22. mimipii says:

    Huh? I thought. What was going through Zach’s head, exactly? I mean, I know he’s still a kid at heart and always dreamed about owning a store, but this isn’t the same thing. This is an old mechanic shop soon to be our house. Yeah, I know. Remind me again why I married him.

    “Isn’t this a steal of a deal, Becks? C’mon you gotta agree with me on this. I mean, just look at this door. Isn’t it way cool? Zach goes over and presses a button, and our front door, aka rolldown gate goes sliding up. “And the really great thing is that we bought it with just a ten year mortgage! Can you imagine? In ten years, this baby is thoroughly ours. To raise a family in. Grow old together. You know, what you always wanted.”

    Now on top of all the annoyance, anger, and frustration I was feeling a moment ago, I am extremely bewildered. “THIS is what I wanted? Ha! As a matter of fact, let me go over to all the neighbors and find out if they are happy here. One second, there are none! Unless you count the garbage trucks parked across the lane! This is an industrial zone, for goodness sakes!” I yell. “And the fact that this place is a windowless storage lot is totally besides the point. What part of wanting a “house in the suburbs” can be construed as desiring this… this…garage?!”

    “Well, you’ll have some grass,” Zach answers meekly, pointing behind the trucks to an old landfill which had grown green fuzz and sported a “hazardous” sign.

    Right now, I wish the door was an actual one so I could open it, scream something, and leave slamming it behind me. Instead, with great emotion, I repeat the line practiced so many times. This acting gig has become so real to me that I have no problem “getting into character”. The curtains fall and the show is over. Zach/ Charlie comes over and we congratulate each other on a job well done.

  23. agnesjack says:

    TAKE #1 — DAY

    When Phil pulled into the pockmarked parking lot of the abandoned warehouse by the old rail yard, Betty knew she was in trouble. She had gotten used to Phil’s harebrained ideas over the years, but the new “SOLD” sticker that had been placed across the faded “For Sale” sign told her this was different.

    Phil stopped the car and jumped out, smiling like a madman.

    “Betty, my girl,” he said as he bounded around to her side of the car and opened her door. “This is the best idea I’ve had yet. You’re gonna LOVE it. That condo was never right for us, you know that. A PROJECT! That’s what we need in our retirement. We don’t need to sit on our duffs all day playing canasta with a bunch of old farts. I just can’t believe our luck. It’s fantastic!”

    He guided her toward a rusted steel door that was hanging precariously from one giant hinge.

    “A little oil and elbow grease and this will be just like new,” he said as he strained to pull the screeching door open just enough for them to squeeze through. “I’m telling you, honey, this is gonna be heaven. HEAVEN!”

    When Betty’s eyes adjusted to the gloom, she got a good look at their new heaven. Most of the windows were broken or missing, the concrete floor was disintegrating, and the smell of motor oil, mold, animal urine and Lord knows what else, was overwhelming.

    Phil continued his monologue as he raced around pointing to this and that. “Would you just LOOK at those curved brick lintels above the windows. My God! They just don’t make buildings with this kind of craftsmanship anymore.”

    Betty couldn’t help but notice that half the lintels were lying broken on the sill, not above the window, but that didn’t stop Phil. “Honey, can’t you just picture it? The kitchen here. A loft for the bedroom. A workshop for me back there…”

    Betty quietly turned and headed back to the car. It was a good fifteen minutes before Phil noticed she was gone.

    “Betty?!” he shouted with his head sticking out of door. “What are you doing in the car?”

    She ignored him. Finally, he came out.

    “Pretty goddamn fabulous, huh?” he said as he got in the car.

    Betty calmly looked at his grinning face. She took his hand and said evenly, “No, Phil. It is NOT pretty goddamn fabulous.”

    He stared at her.

    “I love you, Phil,” she said. “I’ve loved you through forty-two years of fabulous projects: the half-finished sailboat that sat in our yard for years; the classic Porsche with a partial engine that rusted in our garage; the unfinished greenhouse that eventually toppled over; the pile of bricks for the barbecue/smoker that never got built.”

    “But—”

    “No, Phil.” she said. “No. Goddamn. Buts.” It was the first time she had said no to him and it felt wonderful.

    “Now,” she said. “Let’s pay a visit to that shyster realtor, shall we? Then we’ll go back to our nice, clean condo and learn canasta. O.K., Phil?”

    • Susan says:

      Brilliant, agnesjack – a lovely entertaining read, with a very satisfying ending. Great dialogue and a vivid picture of a long-suffering wife – the worm that finally turns. I enjoyed it very much :)

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        I enjoyed it immensely. Strike three and he’s out. I thought your dialogue was as good as it gets. Betty is a wonderment of restraint, it’s a wonder she hasn’t ‘done him in’ in 42 years. He oughta thank his lucky stars.

        Entertainment to the last word.

    • mimipii says:

      Great dialogue. Very realistic

      • agnesjack says:

        Thanks Susan, KC and mimipii.

        I enjoy writing dialogue (must be my theater background). I think you can reveal a lot about a person that way.

        I kind of liked Phil as he developed. I think Betty loves him because of his childlike enthusiasm — but there is a limit, and she’s reached it.

    • Victor says:

      Betty should have had that talk with Phil oh so long ago.

      The character of Phil – his statement of “in our retirement” is the only thing that tells us (until Betty’s talk later on) that he is old. Otherwise he bounds around like a two year old – which is the point, and he’s a great character. But I wonder if the gap between his chronological age and actual immaturity shouldn’t also show up a bit in the descriptive action. EG, he almost loses his dentures, or the arthritic crack that rings out when he leaps for joy, or something (hopefully much better than my examples) that hints at age conjoined with immature enthusiasm.

      Just a thought I had, and I could well be barking up the wrong tree, but I’d like to try to start offering more than just compliments on a job well done – I wouldn’t bother trying to criticise if I didn’t think the writing worth it.

      • agnesjack says:

        Not at all, Victor. I think you have made a valid point and I appreciate it.

        However, Phil and Betty are not really “old”. In my mind, they are recently retired, which would make them in their sixties. Since I am not too far from retirement age, I can tell you that my friends and I are still pretty spritely. Still, Phil is a 66/67-year-old child, and I think that comes across. In a longer piece, the age-appropriate descriptions that you suggest could be added.

        Thanks for your input.

    • Critique says:

      I found it entertaining – it had me laughing. Good job.

    • frankd1100 says:

      “Smiling like a madman.” I had to laugh but as I read on it reminded me of old schemes I had dragged people into. Great story…

    • don potter says:

      I loved the way he did his sales pitch, never asking for her opinion. It was probably the one he used for all 42 projects. I’ll bet things will be different around the condo after this.

    • starwatcher says:

      I think that Betty’s reaction would be every woman’s reaction (at least from my experience with my girlfriend, yikes!), which is what I love about the dialogue. Good job.

    • No sale, Phil. No sale.

      lol, well played and I think you reflected a marriage full of broken promises quite well.

  24. swatchcat says:

    Monkey Business
    By Penney White

    The property had claimed its first victims in twenty years. Inspector Tully looked at a pair of glasses next to an evidence maker “what type of person buys this old place and lives in it?”

    A large forensics team had gathered indoors and out at the train yard. He looked out the window toward the turntable. The medical examiner had come for the woman’s remains. He could see the covered body from the rail tower attached to the warehouse.

    “Family members say they moved in on a whim. Wife won it at an auction. Husband wasn’t too happy. She spent their life savings. Constable Jones answered as if reading Tully’s mind. Tully turned to see her scrawl in a tablet.

    “Aye, what I wouldn’t give to see what the Mister saw through these,” His rubber gloved hand raised the glasses to eye level.

    “Don’t some trains still slip through this end of the yard,” asked Jones?

    “Yah, Brunswick and the North Line,” he replied.

    “She shoulda’ minded the gap.” She snickered.

    “Ah Jonesy, ya shouldn’ta.” Cringing he turned to look into the yard. He scanned the terrain resting on the outskirts to the north. A radio crackled.

    “Can the Collector take it away,” Jonesy asked?

    “Wha? Yah, Yah. Keep a few hands on. I’ll be sportn’ a look see at those gypsies across the yard. Meet up witcha’ at the station.

    Tully made his way through the old warehouse and across the rail yard. He tipped his hat in the direction of the Collector and kept going.

    Later that night at the station, Tully sat sifting through his notes. The question; was this an unlawful killing or death by misadventure? He tilted back his chair, arms behind his head starring at the ceiling fan. What did he have?
    1) Unsolved identical murder twenty years ago. Same train yard, same warehouse.
    2) No witnesses, gypsies hiding something.
    3) Husband missing.
    4) Examiner says blunt force trauma.
    5) Hair of rare lemur found next to glasses and on the wives body.
    6) Semen matching both gypsy woman and husband found at warehouse and gypsy wagon.

    After Tully had tracked down the gypsy caravan that had moved on, more evidence was found. Although nothing really could have made sense beyond pure evidence Tully and Jonesy put the gypsy away for murder.

    The crime:

    The husband had fallen in love with a gypsy woman traveling in a caravan camping outside the yard. The wife got jealous, went after the gypsy and was hexed for her trouble. She died in the train yard caught up in the tracks when a train came. Splat!

    Where was the husband? Lady lover kept him locked up in a cage as a monkey. He had seen his wife run over by the train and didn’t try to help, just watching with lover from the tower, only his glasses were on. He felt guilty later, told the gypsy he was going to the police so; she turned him into a monkey and kept him for a pet. The gypsy woman had a menagerie of rodents.

    • swatchcat says:

      Damn it, quotation marks after savings in third paragraph. What else? Give it to me.

    • Susan says:

      Well done! Amazing to get such a complicated murder mystery encapsulated in such a short story – an intriguing and gruesome tale. Couldn’t help wondering what happened to the poor monkeys.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Wow!, Swatchcat or Penney.

        This is so intriguing. A murder mystery in 500, written so concisely I feel as if I’ve read a novella. A beautiful piece of work and the dialogue is perfect. My hat is off to you. You’re in top form on this. Are your intentions to expand it? I hope so.

    • Svapne says:

      6) Semen matching both gypsy woman and husband found at warehouse and gypsy wagon.

      What?

      Fun read other than that bit of biological curiosity!

      • swatchcat says:

        Oops, totally gotcha here. That’s one special gypsy mama ;) I guess it could just go: “DNA matched both persons at both scenes” or, well, sorry to tired to think…suggestions?
        Thanks everyone

        • Svapne says:

          I like leaning toward the special gypsy mama. :P

          I’m not sure how to word it best. Perhaps, if condoms were involved, they would find her DNA on the outside and his sperm inside? This is a pretty innocuous example, but that assumes protection was used.

          There are a lot of er… “inventive” methods to get her DNA, in an obviously sex-related scenario. If there were either menstrual or weird cutting sex sessions, her blood could be there. But that may be freakier than is necessary. Less freakishly, there could be toys or accessories involved. Both their fingerprints on lube or something would do too. I’m not sure what would fit with your theme.

          • swatchcat says:

            My eyes, they burn!! TMI, TMI!! Wow, I hadn’t even thought of all that. I tried to comment and had to go through 10 profile updates just now before WD would let me come back on just to thank you again for your suggestions. I was honestly just thinking about the gypsy being a hermaphrodite and leaving it at that. Teehee…

          • Svapne says:

            I guess I watched too much CSI back in the day, huh?

            There are a lot of ways it could go. You could even have the detectives awkwardly prance around what sort of connection the gypsy woman had to the scenes.

            “Semen matching the husband was found. Other… er… evidence indicates that the gypsy… er… woman… was present.”

    • Victor says:

      What started as a story seemed to morph into an outline for a much bigger story – not that there’s anything wrong with that. You definitely have a good crime-mystery writing style happening.

      But more importantly, after Svapne’s speculations – shouldn’t clue 6) be next week’s prompt?

    • frankd1100 says:

      What an imagination… I couldn’t help wondering, if there was more room, would the detectives have become a pork based Gypsy barbecue?

    • don potter says:

      I liked the logic of the evidence followed by the solving of the crime and the way it morphed into fantasyville. Enjoyed the trip.

    • Awesome ‘Police procedural slash gypsy/ghost story’, Swatchcat. I like the business-style you used with the list. I haven’t seen that much in fiction. It really brings out the Tully’s mannerisms.

  25. don potter says:

    Returning from a week-long business trip, I was greeted by my wife with an uncharacteristic hug and a gigantic kiss.

    “You won’t believe what I did?” Becky said.

    “Oh, no,” I replied, knowing her surprise must have something to do with spending money. It always did.

    “Know how you’ve been complaining that the apartment is too small for us?”

    “Did you find a bigger place to rent?”

    “Better than that, I bought a bigger place. Much bigger.”

    “Why didn’t you discuss it with me?”

    “Then it wouldn’t be a surprise.”

    “Let’s sit down and have a drink so you can fill me in on the details.”

    “How ‘bout if we go see our new home?”

    “Tonight?”

    “No, silly, tomorrow. You need to relax after the trip. Get a good night’s sleep and you’ll be raring to go in the morning. No more questions until then.”

    I awoke to the tantalizing aroma of fresh brewed coffee and heard the rare sound of Becky preparing breakfast. After eating, we headed out to see the new place.

    The trip took us to the rough side of town and finally to the dirty and depressing old train yard. Becky drove the car right into the middle of this rusting network of tracks and vacant buildings. She stopped the car in front of a deteriorating warehouse. Every widow was broken and it looked as if half the bricks were missing from the facade’s dried and cracked mortar.

    “What’s this?” I cried, afraid of what the answer might be.

    “This is it. You won’t believe what a deal I got.”

    “Whatever you paid for it is too much.”

    When Becky told me the price, I said, “That’s equal to our entire life’s savings.”

    “In order to get the lowest possible price I had to pay cash. There’s nothing left.”

    “You’re kidding?”

    “I’m serious. Aren’t you proud of me?”

    “That’s not the word that came to mind,” I muttered.

    “Let’s go in and I’ll describe the plans I have to make our dream house complete.”

    Becky got out of the car and walked toward the decrepit dump. I slid over to the driver’s seat and high-tailed it out of there spraying a cloud of pebbles and debris in my wake. The first thing I did upon arriving home was to pour myself a hefty drink. I made a couple of phone calls and poured another before retiring to my favorite chair.

    An hour later the phone rang. It was Becky.

    “Why did you leave me there,” she asked.

    “Because I’m not going to live in your house.”

    “It’s yours too.”

    “No, it’s yours as part of the divorce settlement. My attorney wants to know if you want the papers served at your new address or wherever you’ll be staying until you move in.”

    “I’ll be home in about an hour. We can discuss things then,” she said.

    “The locks will be changed by then,” I said, realizing that the tiny apartment was just the right size for one.

  26. Annie says:

    I can hear my wild heartbeat. With each step, a resounding ‘clack’ echoes loudly. Swallowing bile, I allow my eyes to trace the outline of the windows, trying desperately to ignore the cracked panes and moldy sills.

    He is silent. Waiting.

    I take slow, deep breaths, counting silently, begging the rushing waves in my head to quiet. I need to think. The sandy grit beneath my shoes grinds against the soles as I turn, and my pulse jumps once more. My count begins again.

    His eyes search my face cautiously. He knows by now that he messed up. The question is, will I let an abnormally large building be the end of my hard earned sanity.

    I force a large breath through my lips and attempt to turn the corners into a smile. I’m sure it looks painful, possibly a bit wild, not at all what he had hoped for.

    “Darling, I–”

    Jumping in quickly before he can say anything stupid, I try to be reassuring.

    “I love you. It’s– big. But I can work with it. How much did you say you spent? Nevermind. Let’s just– grab dinner and you can explain your plans. We can fix this. You can fix this. I will adapt. I have to adapt. It will just take some– paint. And a hammer.”

    The flood gates open. I feel myself continuing to talk even as the deafening roar fills my head. From a distance, I see my hands shaking, my legs buckling. Oh no. Please not again.

    I can’t open my eyes. I hear the echoes and the beeping, and too suddenly I remember it all. His words: I bought us a house. The building: a huge beastly thing beside the rusted tracks. The echoes. My husband’s look of horror. His warm, sticky blood on my hands. The fire.

    I begin counting. One, two, three, …

    My body convulses violently, I feel the restraints and hear a faraway clamor. In minutes, I will forget. I always forget.

    Please, I beg my broken mind, please stop this torture. A last conscious thought drifts through my head behind the nurse’s words:

    I will live this hell forever.

  27. peetaweet says:

    Crossing the tracks, I grimaced at the rows of depressing industrial buildings that lined the James River. The first thing I noticed was the smell. What my wife had claimed to be opportunity actually smelled more of rotting fish or maybe/probably something worse. Driven by her excitement and the torment of my own guilt, I’d agreed to finally come and look at what she called an investment opportunity.

    We exchanged a quick kiss and hiked the crumbling stairs.

    “Okay, you have to keep an open mind. Remember the last place, how you didn’t like the color schemes I picked out until I painted and then you loved it?” Loved it, sure. Cat vomit salmon is what I called it when she wasn’t home. I tried a different approach.

    “Honey, I didn’t know we were looking at buying more property?”

    “Come on Paul. Remember when we were young and we took on adventure. This could be fun.”

    So is backgammon.

    She opened the door and we stepped into the dark. The old planks groaned as she found the switch and the exposed wires and dangling bulbs began what was soon going to be an electrical fire in an attempt to illuminate the trash and beer bottles scattered across the dusty floor. The place was a bad, real bad. Like Rocky wouldn’t even do a training montage in there bad. That didn’t stop her from bouncing around the room.

    “Don’t you love these beams? And the brick. Oh Paul, think of how good your giant tv will look here.”

    I was confused and freezing, and only there because I was trying to be a good husband. But what was she thinking? A train rumbled by, shaking the windows and sending tremors through the floors. I held my arms out. “Lovely, it vibrates.”

    “Okay, I’m thinking the kitchen will go here, she said, ignoring me and motioning with her hands. But we’ll leave the area exposed. And look at the view.” I followed her to the window , grabbing her by the waist as we looked through the cracked windows out towards river.

    She leaned her head back into mine, her hair smelling clean and fragrant in the musty old building. I’d really missed those moments.

    “I hope you like it.”

    “Honey..”

    “No, really. Because I bought it.”

    I swallowed a large, golf ball-sized lump.

    “What?”

    She spun around and traced my cheek, her face filled with mock concern. “Well yes, dear, I figured you’d need somewhere to live.”

    I pushed her away. Her expression dropped, replaced by a devious smile. Oh my God. She knew.

    “Oh honey. You must have lost your head screwing that little tramp,” she said, her voice now sharp and blistering. “But not me, no sir. I’ve been looking to invest. We’ll call this the downtown revitalization project. Do you want to guess what a place like this costs? Or rather the block?”

    A car door shut outside. Then another.

    “What have—“

    “It’s not cheap, I’ll tell you that. Some people would need a lifetime to save up enough to buy it.” She put a finger to her lips and then cocked her head. “Like you.”

    The door opened and two large, masked men entered. She dropped the key on the floor.

    “Oh, and look, you already have visitors. I’d better be getting back. Goodbye Paul.”

    She turned to leave, patting one of the henchmen on the shoulder with a gloved hand on her way out. And then she was gone.

  28. Susan says:

    “Surprise!” said Henry, as he removed the blindfold from my eyes. “Happy Birthday, darling – and welcome to our new home.”

    I stared in disbelief at the huge empty warehouse.

    “Very funny, Henry – you’ve excelled yourself this time. So where’s the party?”

    “No party, hun – no money left for a party after buying the lease on this little beauty. It’s fair cleaned us out.”

    “Ha, bloody ha! So where’s the candid camera?” I looked around, expecting a fanfare of kazoos and a ton of dopey friends to burst out screaming “SURPRISE!”

    “Hi folks”, I shouted, to the invisible crowd I was sure lurked somewhere behind the scenes, “Sorry to disappoint, but I’m not falling for this one!”

    “There’s no hidden camera and no party, Marcie. And this is no joke. This is where we’ll be living from now on. Removals have all been arranged – the furniture’s on its way.”

    “You really are kidding me, aren’t you?”

    “Nope – cross my heart and hope to die. We had to move, Marcie – I didn’t want to tell you until I’d found a new place, but we were given notice to leave the apartment last month.”

    “We’ve been evicted?!”

    “Thanks to your little friends – yes. It was all getting too much for the other tenants and the landlord’s sick of fielding their complaints. Besides which, he has one of his own now. His wife’s never gonna forgive us for that incident with her wig…”

    “Oh, come on – you have to admit that was funny!”

    “She didn’t see the joke, Marcie. But that’s the least of it. Mrs Carter’s budgie’s in therapy, and she’s sending us the bill. The Burtons’ Labrador has developed a cat phobia and refuses to leave the house. Mrs Marshall claims her sweet little pussies have turned into juvenile delinquents, thanks to hanging out with you-know-who. And, last but not least, old Mr Burke’s still recovering from his broken leg…”

    “He should have looked where he was going – he can’t blame our Tom for that…”

    “Well he does – and he’s got a hot-shot lawyer on the case who agrees with him.”

    “But why here? It’s horrible.”

    “It’s great, Marcie – there’s so much space! Plenty of room for my snooker table and train set. Lovely and light.”

    “Plenty of room to CHASE!” miaowed Tom, whose whiskers emerged from the top of Henry’s rucksack.

    “Get outta there,” growled Henry, tipping him onto the floor. “But that brings me to the best feature of all,” he said, grinning from ear to ear. Retrieving a document from the bag, he waved it triumphantly in the air.

    “Here’s the lease, Marcie – and one of the conditions is: NO PETS. So your furry friends will have to go join their Siamese buddies in the pound.”

    “Not so fast, Mister, you don’t get rid of us that easy” squeaked Jerry, emerging from Henry’s top pocket and peering over his shoulder at the lease.

    “I don’t see no mention there of TOONS. Hey, Tom – come and get me. It’s PLAYTIME!”

  29. calicocat88 says:

    (Hey guys! Haven’t been on in a while–computer trouble and illnesses. And…just for a special treat, I’ve made my story too long again, lol! Kidding. About the treat ;) )

    Eva wanted children, but Brandon was sterile. Crossbreeds couldn’t reproduce. If you failed science class, but learned one thing, that crumb of information was the reproductive short comings of the mule. Although, telling Eva that he and the mule had more in common that just stubborn idiocy was completely inconsequential to their situation. Did it really matter why they couldn’t get pregnant? So he couldn’t spurt out enough tadpoles to satisfy a frog, but that was absolutely no reason to allow his wife to dance around the street flinging their life savings to the heavens—not that she did exactly that. But still…the feeling was there, heavy and strong.

    “Just a few more steps…” Eva guided Brandon—blind folded—through a pair of double doors into a massive warehouse that smelled painfully of stale urine. He knew where he was as soon as they had stepped from the car and his stomach lurched at the familiarity. “You’re going to love this! I know it. Just remember, babe. Keep an open mind.”

    “Okay,” he tried desperately for enthusiastic and instead sounded like someone was ramming their fingers up his behind. Ungloved.

    The blindfold slipped from his face, over his head. There was a slight breeze drifting through the place, hot and syrupy. The windows were open—he didn’t have to look; he knew because he had forgotten to close them earlier.

    “What do you think?” Eva gushed.

    The warehouse was gray, dismal, and huge, lined with musty floor length windows. Besides the bricked flooring, Brandon couldn’t understand his wife’s infatuation with the place. But then again, he never understood why she did anything. To the right was a block of tiny rooms, all but one filled up with boxes and leftover supplies from the factory that it had once been. The warehouse was completely ordinary and inconspicuous and exactly how he had left it.

    “Brandon?” Eva clung to his shirt sleeves, peering up with deer-like brown eyes. “You love it, right? I know it looks rough now, and it’s definitely no place for a baby, but we can change that with some—“

    “It’s great,” he said, picking his chin from off the floor. He hadn’t realized it was hanging open.

    “You’re not mad?”

    Brandon felt the sudden itch move through his bones, his muscles. His senses were picking up the sickening sweet stench coming from one of the little rooms. If Eva found out the truth, she’d divorce him. Maybe that wasn’t such a bad idea…

    “No, not mad,” he said. “Surprised. Very, very surprised.”

    And horrified.

    “Ugh, that’s so awesome!” She began wandering around the warehouse, spitting out elaborate decorating ideas that he mostly tuned out. It was impossible to deafen noises of that ridiculous pitch. He felt a stab of envy towards the people who grew up normal and completely human. At least he was half human.

    The scent beckoning from the room had his other half clawing to get out. His eyes watered as he fought against the mutation. Walking closer to the room he shook his head, his vision blurring and deepening enough that now he could see his reflection in the small, red puddle draining from under the door. Quickly, he glanced over his shoulder at Eva. She was gibbering about bathroom tile. She hadn’t even noticed.

    His hand was quivering on the door knob, his mouth dripping, yearning to pierce his canines through soft flesh. Behind his ribs, his heart was hammering, adrenaline coursing through his veins. With the smallest amount of pressure the door gave and closed behind him with a satisfied click. The smell of meat was intoxicating and sent him to his knees. It repulsed him and at the same time he couldn’t stop himself from licking his lips at his most recent catch.

    “Brandon?”

    Distantly, Eva called his name. He knew that he should act, come up with some kind of excuse. She would believe anything besides the truth; that he killed without restraint, that he was a predator amongst so many unsuspecting preys. Her voice drifted away to the back of his head where he kept his conscience these days. As if handling a rare and porcelain doll, he lifted the body from the floor, the head rolling backwards, the back bowed and exposing the full, lovely chest.

    “Brandon!”

    He brought his head down, nestling his face in the crook of the neck between the collar bone. His lips brushed against cool skin and a shudder rippled through his body. The familiar pain shot up his back and stretched the length of his limbs. He could feel the animal taking over. Licking the hollow below the neck, grazing his teeth once over the vulnerable spot, he latched down rougher than he had anticipated exploding clotted blood into his mouth—

    The door swung open, the sound of a suddenly silenced scream snapping him from his daze. Brandon turned his feral gaze on Eva, her eyes gaping, her mouth forming words she couldn’t get out.

    “Eva,” he dropped the body; it landed with a dull thud. He reached out a now furred hand and she flinched. “Eva, it’s me.” His voice was a growl, guttural and wanting.

    Eva didn’t speak. Her body shook uncontrollably, her legs slowly edging her out the room. He couldn’t let her get away. It was obvious she didn’t, would never understand. As she turned to run, Brandon leaped out, landing on her back and skidding them both out into the warehouse. She struggled underneath him—he didn’t want to kill her. But the fight, the lure of the hunt and kill…Human Brandon was only a thought in an angry, vined mass of man and animal. Inside, he watched himself silently, helplessly as Eva’s screams grew quieter until they disappeared completely.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      OMG! Scary and exciting at the same time. I take him as a werewolf or a cross-breed of vampire, werewolf and human. Vivid descriptions both of thought processes and physical. You’re at the top of horror. You ought to write screen plays; you definitely have the talent for it. Keep them coming.

      • Susan says:

        I agree with Kerry – very vivid and frightening – and emotionally intense. Extremely powerful.

        It is very long, though – I know you’re not the only offender, but I have to admit I wish people would try to stick to the word limit – I feel it’s part of the challenge, but it also makes it harder to get through and comment on all the posts when some are so lengthy.

        • calicocat88 says:

          Thanks, Susan :)And I agree with you. I don’t always want to read the ones that look too long, but if they have decent attention getters and keep my mind rolling the whole time, I honestly don’t mind. I think that certain stories need the extra space and shouldn’t be cut back. But it’s true. The word limit is, I think, the real challenge and you can grow as a writer working to fit your stories into that limit. Of course, I don’t always like the stories that I come up with to fit that length, so I rebel ;)

          • Susan says:

            Thanks for taking my moan in good part, Calicocat :) I admire your rebellious streak and like your writing very much :)

      • calicocat88 says:

        Kerry, thank you! I honestly didn’t know which direction I was taking Brandon. It was more “leaving up to imagination.” I never thought of writing screenplays, lol! I appreciate you thinking I’d be good at it. Thanks again!

    • jhowe says:

      Very well written story Calico. I liked it a lot. Did the warewolf have a cache of bodies in the spare room? I’ve heard those warewolves have a hard time rationalizing when they are transforming. They sure are surley buggers.

      • calicocat88 says:

        Thanks, jhowe :) Actually, Brandon just had the one–it had just been that morning that he brought it back to the warehouse to store. For his character I really wanted to capture the conflict between being a human being and a mindless killing machine and how he struggles to be on the side of good…which he clearly doesn’t do well. Glad you seemed to pick up on that :) And I definitely wouldn’t want to be a werewolf, lol!

    • snuzcook says:

      Very dark, very dense and thoroughly mezmerizing. Great images. I generally don’t get into this genre very far, but this was well done and I read it twice!

      • calicocat88 says:

        Thanks snuzcook :) I don’t really get into this genre either–I’m a scaredy cat. How I end up writing it, I don’t know, lol! So glad you liked it though!

    • Victor says:

      Some really powerful sentence construction in this. “Human Brandon was only a thought in an angry, vined mass of man and animal” is very good.

      • calicocat88 says:

        Thank you so much, Victor! I often wish that I could paint description the way some poets do–the way fantasy writers play out their worlds in the back of their readers eyes. It just amazes me, so that you liked one of my descriptions makes me so happy :)

    • frankd1100 says:

      Great story… Descriptive, harsh, humor mixed with (briefly) common relationship stuff…

      ‘…ramming fingers up his behind, ungloved.” Trying to imagine what that sounds like.

      You let it all hang out with this one!

    • don potter says:

      Strong stuff. While vampires and werewolves are not my cup of tea, your description made the scene sexy and scary at the same time.

      • calicocat88 says:

        Don, thank you :) Personally, I think vampires and werewolves are over-cooked these days, but they’ve been around for such a long time–always coming back and sticking around. I’d like to see someone write about them in a new, unique way besides the usual…which I’m guilty of doing as well. I’m happy that you liked my description :) I’m too good with it at times–I tend to rush through. So thanks!

    • This was an exciting and terrifying read, calicocat. Superb as always.

      • calicocat88 says:

        Doug, it just makes me feel so good that you enjoy my stuff :) No matter the reason we write, when someone comes away from our stories entertained and happy it just does the writer good. Thanks!

  30. Kerry Charlton says:

    WHAT SAUCE FOR THE GOOSE, IS SAUCE FOR THE GANDER

    She was a beautiful redhead David had met at Friday’s bar a half year ago. He never expected love to enter his life again. After his fifth divorce, he felt cheap, used and overworked. Her name was Teresa, a mysterious Latino with flashing, dark eyes, high cheek bones and a set of pins that traveled marvelously to her ankles.

    The sex had been incredible. Every trick in the book, had she known. David had seen ‘The Look Of Love’ in her exotic face. He knew in his heart her passion had been real and not a put-on to entice him into her web.

    David Rushmore III lived in a penthouse on Turttle Creek, over-looking Lee Park, just north of downtown Dallas. Lighting had struck both of them, at least he had thought so and they married a week ago. The ceremony was performed by Judge Williams in his living room, under the radar of David’s social set and her late-husband’s heirs.

    Teresa drove a Bentley and lived in Highland Park in a twelve thousand foot mansion, courtesy of her fourth husband. She had agreed to live in David’s penthouse, for his brokerage firm resided on the 43rd floor of First National.

    The had signed a pre-nup but David had given Teresa, access to his bank account to buy what she needed at his high-rise.

    Yerterday, Teresa told him,

    “Darling, I’ve found the perfect place to live. It’s closer to your work but it needs remodeling.”

    “I thought you had agreed to live here. Why the change?”

    “Wait ’till you see this. Have you time now?”

    A frigid “Yes” he answered.

    Teresa headed toward the badlands of east Dallas. David followed her in his Silverado, as he had a later appointment. On the way, he practiced primal screaming in his truck. The Bentley had stopped at the abandoned Armour Meat rendering plant, a dismal,decayed, four story building. The leaning concrete shell sat in an area that looked like South Chicago.

    “You can’t be serious.”

    “Wait until you hear my ideas for your new building, darling.”

    “My building?”

    “I took eight hundred and twelve thousand from your money market account and bought it.”

    David’s mind seethed with revenge. ‘The best lay in the world isn’t worth a tenth of that’, he thought. Then he realized Teresa had also signed a letter authorizing David. access to her account. He had slipped that in as insurance.

    He recovered his composure.

    “That’s wonderful Teresa. but I have to run to the office for my appointment. See you at home.”

    He didn’t wait for a reply for he had noticed a ‘for sale’ sign on the property next door to Armour. Calling his broker, David secured the sale with a large deposit and a full price offer. The security consisted of a million and a half he had taken from Teresa’s savings account.

    Next morning they returned to look at ‘Teresa’s Folly’ as David had envisioned it.

    “I bought you a wedding present baby.”

    “What is it?” she said.

    It’s a yard to go with my building, for you to garden in.”

    “A garden? What kind of yard?”

    David had eased into his pickup and lowered the window on his passenger side. Teresa leaned through the door, waiting for his answer.

    “The stock yard next to this dump. It cost you a million and a half from your savings and if you don’t come up with the balance at closing, you’ll lose it sweetheart. See you in court.”

    The Silverado spun out fron the dirt of the stock yard and left a swirling cloud of dust to settle on Teresa’s face.
    .

    • calicocat88 says:

      I…think he was a little upset. Good story on revenge, Kerry. It’s crazy the things people with money do to “get even.” This story was easy to read. That was the first thing I noticed. I was able to sail through with no problems. I didn’t find myself getting bored either. If you’d continue developing these characters more I think you’d have the stars of a potential novel. I just get that feeling with this story–or maybe, the characters. They seem to be hiding something–secrets that would make an interesting read. Great job! Oh, and I love the “primal screaming” in the truck, lol!

    • Susan says:

      Thanks, Kerry – I enjoyed this. A thoroughly satisfying tale of revenge and entertaining from start to finish.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        I’m glad you weren’t upset with me, He treated her harshly to say the least but I think he began to suspect the death of four husbands was no coincidence. He wasn’t anxious to be # 5.

    • jhowe says:

      Rich people behaving badly. This was a well flowing story with nice dialog. I liked it. I can see the that Latino actress, Sophia something, playing the role of Teresa, though she is not a redhead.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Sophia Loren would be perfect for the part if she were a little younger. Thanks for your thoughts, jhowe. I do think there’s much more story to tell but with 500, it’s impossible. I ran over a little, 50 words or so. My resolve on word count failed on this one. God, I love Bentleys! And also, Sophia Loren. Check a movie out, ‘Boy On A Dolphin’ with Alan Ladd and a very young, lucious Sophia.

    • frankd1100 says:

      When will we ever learn, Kerry?

      I enjoyed this story though I have a feeling that Teresa will turn the tables in court…

      He runs a brokerage house and drives a pick-up… I like the character.

      Well written…

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you Frank. I threw the pickup in as a reminder that not everybody is the same when they obtain their financial goals. Look at Sam Walton and his truck. She probably will but David will have bought enough time to realize that he’s .married to a black widow and if I had more story, I’d let him prove it,

    • agnesjack says:

      I guess getting married after six months is not such a good idea.

      This read was easy and entertaining, KC, although I didn’t like either character very much (and perhaps that’s the point). Two driven, selfish characters that were well-realized.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        You really got to the heart of my story, Agnes. Rathr then fight like normal people do, they fight with $500.00 per hour attorneys. I appreciate you reading my story.

    • don potter says:

      I thought he was screwed, so to speak, but you had him make a great recovery.

    • Welcome to my parlour, said the spider to the fly. Theresa played David well. Well done as always, Kerry

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thanks Doug. I’d like to use both of them again in another plot if they fit. I can really write up a storm about David and Teresa and wanted to expand in this prompt but decided to play by the rules.

  31. jhowe says:

    The marriage therapist peered over his reading glasses as I methodically recited my side of the tribulations Connie and I were experiencing. It was my turn to come alone, without Connie, to supposedly connect with the counselor and get it all out there.

    “I’m not saying our sex life is bad, just not as good as it should be.”

    His eyebrows rose slightly.

    “For instance, Tuesday was my birthday and Connie agreed to have sex with me. It must have been about halfway through or so and somehow we both fell asleep.”

    “Both of you fell asleep?”

    “Yeah, afraid so. Anyway, I woke up at my usual time in the middle of the night to urinate and I forgot I was still wearing a condom. Have you ever been filling up a water balloon and have it slip off the end of the hose nozzle? It was like that.”

    “I see.”

    “I cleaned it up though, which wasn’t fun let me tell you, and went back to bed. In the morning Connie complained that the bathroom smelled like a god damn horse barn.”

    “I can imagine.”

    “As it turned out I used the decorative towels. You know, the ones hanging there, the ones you can’t actually dry your hands on? Well, I had thrown the wet towels in the hamper, which was a mistake, and this, combined with the decorative towel issue set her off something fierce.”

    “Rick, listen, we’re not making progress here. Your grandiose ideas of what sex should be is an affliction many men fall prey to. In the case of you and your wife, I think I can say Connie also shares this affliction.”

    “Wait, I don’t think…”

    “Rick, let’s leave this topic for now and get to your current situation with the loft space.”

    “Oh, the loft space. I get it; Connie put you up to this didn’t she?”

    “Connie is very concerned with your attitude about this move Rick.”

    “And she should be. Who wants to live in a freaking train yard?”

    “Rick, I’m going to paraphrase Connie’s thoughts and I want you to listen, agreed?”

    I nodded.

    “The train yard, as you call it, is a reclamation project with much potential. The loft space above the warehouse is rich with character and natural light that will greatly enhance Connie’s art studio. The space is twice the size of your apartment and close to your office.”

    “But there’s a ton of work to be done,” I said.

    “True, but it’s just cosmetic, you and Connie can work on it together and the rewards will be huge.”

    I said nothing.

    “Rick, please give it some thought. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that you both need this to happen. That’s my opinion and I’m tired of your excuses. Either you work with Connie on this or I’m afraid I’m not going to be able to help you any longer.”

    I walked out into the bright sunlight and sat in the car with the windows down. I watched a young couple walking on the sidewalk, took out a cigarette, put it back, contemplated the pack and crumpled it. After a few minutes I picked up my phone and called Connie. “Hey, it’s me. Can you meet me at the loft? I have a few ideas to run by you.”

    • calicocat88 says:

      Well, this could either end happy or tragically disturbing. A lot of possibilities can come out of this story ending. I’ll be honest, the beginning sucked me in–it’s hilarious! I had a stupid-looking grin on my face the entire time. I also enjoyed the realism of the therapy session and how the therapist saw the “loft” situation as an experience that would bring the couple closer together. I liked it :) Good job!

    • Susan says:

      Very entertaining, jhowe – left wondering what’s going to happen at the end. Loved the exasperated therapist and the hilarious account of the incident in the bathroom – very funny :)

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Cheers on a really funny opening. Both fell asleep huh? The pile driver must have been in neutral. Or out of steam. The condom and pee episode along with the party towells is as funny as they get.

        You’re really good at situations like this because you write low keyed and so realistic to the eyes. Bob Newhart style, wonderful.

    • Victor says:

      BOTH fell asleep at the same time? A marriage made in heaven! Bloody funny stuff – then the prompt had to come along and spoil the fun – but Rick should be stoked when he thinks about it – look at the size of the horse barn he’s got to work with now!

    • peetaweet says:

      Now this was entertaining. I really liked how the prompt just sort of snuck its way in. Well done!

    • mimipii says:

      Entertainment at it’s best. Two thumbs up

    • Observer Tim says:

      I would love to see what happens next. It could be very touching or very Hitchcock (or maybe even very Poe). I get the impression the marriage counsellor is a bit fed up with both of them, though right now it’s Rick’s turn to take the basting.

      I’ve been lurking the last couple of days because I’m gunning ahead on my NaNoWriMo submission. Due to writer’s block I’m only at 6813 words right now, but it was at zero two days ago so I still have a chance.

      I’m mentioning this because I used your initial and last name in my story. The passage is below: feel free to tell me to change the name to protect the innocent (or the guilty).

      • Observer Tim says:

        … from: Super Villains

        A bunch of people stare at me as I come in. It’s not hard to figure out why. I find Jake by his locker with a bunch of friends, talking about last night and how he made me scream for more.

        “Jake Howe!”

        “Leandra, it’s so nice to see you again. I was just telling people about how we…”

        “Put a sock in it, Jake, you know that didn’t happen except in your imagination.”

        “Says you. I say you put out like a nympho. Who do you think people are going to believe?”

        I storm up until I’m about a foot from him. He’s two inches taller than me and like double my weight. He takes my shoulders in an irong grip and leans in close. “Try it again, girl. I’m ready for you.”

        “Paws off, Jake!” My knee comes up again, and he goes down again. Psychic damage isn’t stopped by a cup. I put my foot on his head. “Better look up my skirt now, Jake, it’s the only way you’re ever going to get a chance.” As I storm away I have to suppress a smile as the muttering starts. I’m the girl that took Jake Howe down a peg.

    • frankd1100 says:

      Graphic, laugh out loud humor. I have an image of a brutally honest guy with a good heart. I have a friend like this guy.

      My take on the meeting in the loft ends happily, joyfully, with neither falling asleep.

      Good one…

    • agnesjack says:

      Good one, jhowe. Very funny at the start. Loved the part about the decorative towels that you are not supposed to dry your hands on.

      Personally, I hope the therapist is right about the space being good for their relationship.

    • don potter says:

      I know all about those decorative towels that you can’t use. It’s just not a guy kind of thing. Your story went from the ridiculous to the sublime. Nice tale.

    • I loved the beginning, very very funny. You definitely left this open for a follow-up. Great character building.

  32. Micki Miley says:

    Excitement, dread, and anger were running through me like electric shocks all at once. Robert had bid on and won at auction an abandoned property without consulting me. Worse, he had spent all of our savings on it. He had tried to call the one time I couldn’t pick up the call. My mother had broken her hip, so I was at the hospital with her. I thought I recognized the area as we drove into it, but I couldn’t figure out how I recognized it.

    “Blaine, when you told me that you wanted to invest in a property to flip, I assumed you meant a house that we could renovate. We can’t live in this rat infested, over-sized, out house! It’s probably haunted too.” He had the audacity to grin at me. “I didn’t know you believed in ghosts, Tessie.” My sigh was deep and deflated my whole body. “That isn’t the point. Where are we supposed to live?” He finally looked a little chagrined. “Well, I uumm, talked to your Mother…..” I gaped. “ You did WHAT?” He held his hands out in front of him as if to protect himself. I’m sure he guessed how much I’d really like to throw a punch at him. “Tessie, babe, I know you are pissed and you have every right to be, but hear me out if you can. You know your mother doesn’t want to go a physical rehab facility after she leaves the hospital. She wants to do the therapy at home and she needs you to be with her. She can’t be alone right now, so she has agreed to put us up at her house. She has plenty of room, she needs you and I will be out of the way most of the time.” His words did calm me a little because they were all true. “Ok, you got me there. Mom does need the help right now and I don’t want to leave her alone. You aren’t off the hook by any means though, buddy. This is going to take a long time to get ready for sale. I’ve got three closings scheduled on the houses that I’ve sold, so my commissions will take care of our bills for awhile, but…” He cut me off, shaking his head. “Honey, there is no rush. Don’t worry.” I remembered where I recognized this place from. “I saw pictures of the area a block to the west in the Building Industry magazine. Stampede Investments plans to turn it into an industrial park. One of the inhabitants of the park will need warehouse space or maybe Stampede themselves will take interest. We need to move quickly.” His smile broadened and he nodded his head at my revelation. “We can do this.”
    I rubbed at my temples. “This isn’t how I wanted to tell you, but there is another reason we need to get moving quickly to unload this place. I’m pregnant.”

  33. snuzcook says:

    MAGIC BEANS

    My husband has always been the kind of guy who sees the other side of an issue. Any issue. When we were looking for wedding rings, and couldn’t find anything that we could agree on, he got that ‘aha’ look in his eyes and said, “Piercings!” When he says something with such finality, there simply is no changing his mind. I confess, the sacrifice we both endured to accomplish that one deepened our bond and appreciation for each other’s devotion.

    I should have realized that when we decided that my small apartment would not work for us as a couple and we needed to start house shopping, there was a chance that we would not find something we could both agree upon. One night I woke to hear my dear husband’s voice: “Aha!”

    I padded barefooted into the other room, lit only by the glow of the computer monitor. “What is it, dear?” I asked.

    “I’ve found the answer to our prayers.”

    “What did you find?”

    “I’ll tell you about it in the morning.”

    I must have had a skeptical look, because he pinned my eyes with his. “Don’t you trust me?”

    In the ghoulish blue glow of the monitor, a slight stubble and decidedly Jack Nicholson eyebrows gave his face had a demonic quality.

    “Of course I trust you,” I said.

    “Then go back to bed. I’ll take care of everything.”

    My dear one instructed me to meet him after work at a location at the edge of town. I drove through town to an area abandoned by heavy industry and left to its own devices. Railroad tracks crisscrossed the area, and my car bumped and bucked across every one of them. I found him at a huge, ugly box of a building. He met me just outside the door.

    Holding up a finger to signal I should not speak until he had explained, he began.

    “You remember we have talked about owning a little farm?” I nodded on cue. “Well, I found a way for us to do that right here in the city where you can still be close to your work.” He opened the door with a flourish. “I give you…”

    “A warehouse.” I said flatly.

    “No, no, no. Hydroponics! I invested with a man I found online. For the exact balance of our savings, I was able to negotiate with him for this building and his entire set up. Not only that, but he is throwing in his stock of a new breed of GMO beans. We’ll be rich!”

    “Oh, Jack.” What more could I say.

    • ioshean says:

      good similar to reality

    • Victor says:

      Referencing the fairy tale worked a treat – provided a killer punch line, and even a hint of political comment! I’m a big fan of this sort of referencing/parodying technique – when it adds to the story, as it does here, rather than trades in cheap one-linerism (aka late Simpsons).

      One thought – maybe a reference or two to the fairy tale at the beginning? Or am I being greedy?

      • snuzcook says:

        Glad you enjoyed it!
        I’ll let you in on a secret–Jack is a bit of an ogre (not far removed from a ‘giant’?), so there is some fairy tale iconography mixed in at the very beginning. Fairy tales, after all, are never really as straight forward or linear as the children’s version suggests.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Crazy, take, Snuzcook. Despite the title, I didn’t see it coming. Priceless!

      And now, since the grammar’s pretty strong, I’ll make a couple of picky suggestions on content (you know I have to).

      In the description by monitor-light, it works just as well with his slight stubble and Jack Nicholson eyebrows…

      The “No, no, no!” needs an exclamation point to bring out the enthusiasm. Also, he could have said soemething like “I talked him down to the balance of our savings and got this building and …

      That last line of hers I can almost picture being delivered by Mary Tyler Moore at the end of the Dick Van Dyke show. Or am I just showing my age?

    • snuzcook says:

      A shameless plea for recognition by the author: NaNoWriMo 15,988 as of last night’s installment! But I had to take time away for fun to write “Magic Beans.”

      • Susan says:

        Well done, Snuzcook – good luck with the novel and you get extra points for squeezing this in as well – really enjoyed your fun take on the prompt and didn’t get it until the very last line – great stuff!

    • jhowe says:

      Well, maybe the hydroponics project will work out.

      I enjoyed your story. I liked how the abondoned area had been left to its own devices.

    • agnesjack says:

      Nicely told, snuzcook, with a perfect last line. Loved the connection to the fairy tale.

      But please please please, don’t let Jack plant those GMO beans! Yikes!

    • frankd1100 says:

      Intricately woven sensuality, darkness and a hint of potential violence. Yet she is confident her wiles will serve to keep them together. That’s her desire, for a while anyway.

      Lots of clever pathways in this little space.

      Wonderful!

      • snuzcook says:

        Thanks, Frank, but I think you meant this to post on a different story?
        Either that, or you are reading lots of levels deeper than I was writing.
        (That happens!)

    • don potter says:

      Hydroponics may be the trend of the future. Urban farming can be done under lights, which means fresher vegetables for city dwellers all year long. Of course, Jack must watch out for the nasty giant.

    • Hey, that gives me an idea. *starts counting coin from the jar*. Nope, not enough. Dammit.

      Nice write.

  34. Observer Tim says:

    Derek looks around expressionlessly. He hadn’t said a word since we entered the place; it’s not what I had intended to buy. 221 Riverside is a lovely old house, admittedly a fixer-upper, next to the park by the old rail bridge. This is 122 Riverside, a half-destroyed warehouse on the edge of the old rail yard. That explains why the price was so reasonable.

    Finally his gaze alights on me. “I love it, honey.”

    “What!?!”

    “I said, I love it honey. You’ve made an excellent choice.”

    “But this isn’t the property I wanted! It isn’t even habitable by human beings!”

    “You’re right of course, dear. It will take some fixing up. But we’ll be fine.”

    “Fine! Fine! What’s got into you, Derek?”

    “When we married, it was ‘for better or for worse’, correct? This is probably one of the ‘for worse’ moments, but we’re still together. You and me together, we can do anything.”

    “Derek, we have no money to fix it up! It’s two weeks to the end of the month, and that’s when we have to give up our apartment! Where are we going to live?”

    “We’ll find someplace. Everything will be fine, Kate.”

    I burst into tears. My husband, ever the optimist. Why can’t he see just how bad things are? He holds me until I’ve cried myself out.

    “Are you all right now, Kate? I know this doesn’t seem very good, but let’s take a look around. Maybe there’s a bright side.”

    Yeah. Maybe the building will collapse and kill us quickly. A half-hour’s searching turns up precisely one feature not visible from the street. A basement. Be still my beating heart. But Derek is acting like a kid in a playground.

    “See Kate, the freight elevator still works!”

    “How, Derek? This building hasn’t had electricity since the 90’s!”

    “It obviously has some kind of internal generator. You know what that means: free electricity!”

    “You could fall into a pile of shit and come up smelling like a rose, couldn’t you Derek?”

    But he was right, of course. Somehow this place still has power. I wonder what’s next.

    Derek found the hidden door in the basement. A short flight of stairs led down to a small landing with a steel door and a high-tech handprint lock. Derek was grinning from ear to ear now.

    “It’s still here! Jackpot!”

    “What are you talking about, Derek?”

    “You know how I said my father died when I was ten and I grew up in that orphanage? Well, Dad was the Insidious Doctor Plasma. This is his old lair. I had to find a way to get the land without alerting the Justice Sentinels. That’s why I steered that real-estate swindler at you.”

    The door opens to his handprint and we go inside to an underground paradise. I don’t know for sure that he’s going to follow in his father’s footsteps, but at least we have a home. Him and me together, we can do anything.

    Mwa-ha-ha-ha-haah!

    • Observer Tim says:

      Oops! One paragraph has the wrong verb tense (Derek found …). At least it’s consistent.

      • Victor says:

        You know, every time I’ve tried present tense, I find myself slipping out to past and generally mucking it up – I avoid the present like the plague (only in a writerly sense I hope.)

        Really liked the story – kooky, fun, well-written. And I especially like the moral: Never trust someone who looks too much on the bright side of things.

    • PeterW says:

      Present tense is the best. There are some sweet tricks you can do with it. Also no double past tense (had). Criticism on the story… beside the obvious question of why Kate bought something she knew nothing about… Well read Faulkner’s acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize speech. A lot of literature these days is based off surprise, off of twists, turns, shocking crimes, shocking sex scenes, and its not totally bad. Thrillers are fun to read. So I challenge you to make the twist hit my gut and not just my intellectual mind. Cheers! Fun read.

      • Observer Tim says:

        I enjoy the present tense for first person because it avoids the implicit foreshadowing that the main character made it through the story. Not so important in a light piece like this. I usually write in the storyteller’s near past.

        I tried to show (or at least imply) that Kate bought the property because she was deliberately misled by the seller. He may even have showed her the other property and bamboozled her as to the address.

        I don’t think I can challenge the gut with this prompt. It’s too unreal to me (I prefer surreal, which this isn’t). But I’ll keep the challenge open…

        Thanks, PeterW.

    • snuzcook says:

      Lots of fun elements, and I could almost see Derek morphing into some super-villain in a green body suit on the last paragraph. My take away was the perfect illustration of the wife shackled to an irrepressible individual with a moral compass a few degrees off North. He verbally transforms cow poo to roses to manipulate her; she tries to live it.
      Well done.

    • Susan says:

      Very entertaining, Tim – didn’t notice the switch of tense until you pointed it out, because I was too engrossed in the story. Love the twist at the end.

    • jhowe says:

      I’ve always wondered how these super villians built their lairs and kept them secret. Hollywood magic I guess. Nice job on this story. I enjoyed it a lot.

    • agnesjack says:

      Excellent, Tim. Really enjoyed this one.

    • frankd1100 says:

      Nice hook, Tim… Where do we go from here?

      I love the super hero/villain, self contained secret hideaway genre…

      This deserves a longer treatment.

      Well done.

    • don potter says:

      You took me in a different direction than my head was going. Nice tale with a happy ending.

    • I wish I had a secret lair…. :(

      I like how you turned the tables on the story. It was smooth and effortless.

  35. Victor says:

    “A lick of paint might help,” I said with a forced laugh, as we both surveyed the enormity of my new home, stretching before us like a bricked horizon, with twenty or so elephant-sized archways showing the gloom inside

    Brendan stepped over a length of train track and started forward. I automatically fell in beside him, younger brother style. “Maybe some azaleas, a bird-bath…” I prattled on.

    Brendan’s face didn’t flicker. He stopped a few yards short of door eleven or twelve. “I’ll ring my lawyer. No way you’re letting her get away with this, Henry.”

    “Hm, well, actually, I spoke to her lawyer this morning. It’s a done deal apparently.”

    “We’ll see,” he muttered, staring into the gloom. Then he turned and said, “What I can’t work out is why this place? I mean, we all know she’s batshit cra – ”

    “Shush!” I hissed, grabbing at his arm. “Christ, Bren – she’ll hear you.”

    He stared at me. “She’s here? Now? In there?”

    I nodded, and swallowed. “Bren, I think I know what it’s about, but…”

    A sudden noise came from inside. I edged away from the open archway. Brendan gestured come-on and stepped through.

    “Bren, no, I don’t think we should…” I said, trying to yell in the quietest of whispers. “Bren, listen – she’s started wearing her hair in a braid again…”

    Brendan’s voice boomed from the gloom: “Coast is clear, buddy.”

    I tentatively went through, stood by Bren, looked around. A great cathedral of steel above, concrete below. The floor gouged and gritty and treacherous.

    “Er, ah, it’s…” I said, groping for a facetious quip.

    But Brendan held up his hand. “Sh…hear that?”

    And he was right. A very faint ticking.

    We listened.

    Impossible to tell, in that vast cold space, how close or far away it was. Very faint and irregular, but repetitive and constant.

    “Rats?” one of us whispered.

    Then my big bro signaled come-on and started for the far end of the warehouse, where a locked box of a room sat still as a time bomb.

    To break the unbearable silence, or to cover the unbearably soft ticking, Bren said, “So spill – what’s it all about?”

    “Ah, well, it seems, um – the plan apparently is that…she wants to adopt children.”

    Brendan stopped dead. Only the soft ticking went on. We were only meters from the door to the room. “But…she hates children.”

    “Ha!” I cried, and quickly slapped a hand over my mouth. “Well, no – that’s apparently not strictly the case – see, her doctor told her she only hated our child, and that, in fact, now, funnily enough, she seems to have developed a deep love for children in general. Hence…” I gestured round at the enormity of the empty warehouse.

    The silence was suddenly deafening. The ticking had stopped. There was a shuffling noise, then a long tremulous sigh, then, with mind-numbing familiarity, the irregular repetitive ticking started up like it had never been silent.

    I looked at Brendan but he just stood there staring at the closed door of the room.

    I went forward, got down on my knees, and looked through the key hole. The gloom was verging on darkness in there, but I could just make out a woman sitting in a large salmon coloured recliner, a big grey ball of yarn on her lap. And there, dangling precariously from the point of her two clacking needles, was a heart-stoppingly perfect little blue booty.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Kind of disturbing, Victor, but I like the take. I enjoy what happens when seemingly normal people encounter the insane. I love the phrase ‘boomed from the gloom’.

      My only criticism is that I get a bit lost trying to follow the conversation. It seems to me that the men switched attitudes in there somewhere. Or it could be me.

    • snuzcook says:

      Loved the suspense with the ticking. Just how weird was it going to get?
      Fun story. Cute ending.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        It scared the crap out of me. I thought the ticking was a clock wired to 12 sticks ofdynamite and the whole building was going up so she could knock her husband off and collect on his life insurance and also the policy on the building.My imagination’s runing rampant this evening. A wonderful write.

    • agnesjack says:

      I, too, was a little confused by who was talking. I loved, however, that it wasn’t a bomb. It made for a much more interesting story.

      Who the hell is this woman, and why is he still married to her and what comes next, I wonder?

    • frankd1100 says:

      Holy frackin hell!

      Vivid description puts one in the room… The archways, cathedral of steel, secret rooms and the unceasingly eery ticking.. Two regular guys look through a keyhole to a nightmare.

      Darkly well written…

    • don potter says:

      You turned the warehouse into a Gothic castle. Scary story with a more frightening ending. Nice job.

    • Very strange and dark, Victor. I enjoyed your writing style here.

  36. It was a long car ride to the “place” my husband was driving to. My hands, folded in my jacket pocket, were picking at each other, a nervous habit I sometimes did. We were driving to the house my husband had just spent our whole life savings on. While I didn’t doubt his judgment, spending our whole life savings, on a house I have never saw, scared me just a bit. But, I kept my feelings to myself and tried to not think about it.

    He pulled off a side road off the interstate, one that I had never been on. Our old Camry crept along the dirt path. I looked over at him. He was smiling. I was not. We were out in the middle of nowhere and if I’m being honest, it was a little creepy. Tall bushels of corn were all I could see for miles.

    We approached an old, abandoned warehouse. I felt my mouth dropped a little. My hands were not clinched in fists inside the pocket of my sweatshirt. I hoped, so bad, that he was just messing with me. This couldn’t be the place.

    He turned off the ignition. There was silence – no city noises, no honking, no chatter, just complete silence. He looked over at me and smiled, “Come on. Let’s take a look.”

    He got out of the car. He wanted me to follow and even though I didn’t want to, I did. We walked up the dirt road to the front of the abandoned building. He opened two barn doors and walked in. He motioned with his hands to show me everything starting with the cracked wall and the hole in the roof, “She’s a fixer upper but she’s a good’en.”

    I laughed. He just looked at me. “You have got to be freakin kidding with me right now.” I looked him in the eye. “Come on. Let’s go. I wanna see the real thing.”

    His eyes dropped to the floor. I knew that look. It was true. This was the building he had bought, this piece of crap building in the middle of nowhere with a leaking roof, cracked walls and small critters running in and out of the doors. I dropped to the ground in a squat and put my hands in my face. I took two long minutes to compose myself before standing back up and confronting my husband.

    He walked over to me and pulled me in his arms. I felt his breathe on the top of my head, “This is gonna be good, Em. I promise.”
    “How can you look at me and say it’s going to be okay? You just spent EVERY dime we had buying this place and we can’t even live here.” I felt a tear form in my eye.

    He started laughing. “Em, my dear Em. Stop crying. I’m just teasin you. Come, follow me.” We walked outside of the building and over to the edge of the hill the old building was sitting on. As far as my eyes could see there was rolling hills with a little white farm house at the bottom of the hill. “That my dear, that is ours.” I smiled at him. “That old building is ours too but I’m not going to make you live there.” He laughed.

    He then squeezed my hand and started walking us down the hill to our house.

  37. thejim says:

    Even with the window open the smell of grime and dirt still filled the air. Alec sat on a stool, trying hard to concentrate on nothing. He started the process again. He thought to himself, deep breaths … clear your mind … listen to only your breathing. His heartbeat slowed.

    “What is this place?” Maria murmured. “I mean, I can’t believe you just spent everything we have on… this.” She moved over to middle of the room and slowly sat on a hard wooded stool. Her eyes surveyed the large room trying to find some redeeming quality. “Alec, are you listening to me, this place is a dump and if you think that we will live here you ARE crazy.”

    Alec sat in the room motionless with his eyes closed and did not answer her.
    With a slight tilt to the left she slowly shook her head. This was not the first time something like this had happened. It seems to be getting worse, this time a warehouse on an abandoned train station.

    Alec looked up from his trans-like state. “What was that Dear?”

    “I said …we can’t live here.”

    “Oh my dear, if you will just a little faith, I have been telling you for years that I am getting close and this time I found it, and beside we won’t be living here” Alec said with a smile.

    “I thought that you have given up on this, remember, doctor and you both agreed that it was just your imagination.”

    “No. This is it, this is the place. You see, the general energy that is concentrated in this one area is by far the greatest I have found in the entire city. The combined gravitational energy and the electromagnetic radiation creates a perfect bridge, it is just…… “
    Maria took a deep breath and just looked at his child like enthusiasm as he went on to explain in detail with grandiose gestures but the words he spoke fell on deaf ears, she learned long ago to block out his rants.

    “I’ll show you, he said. You just sit there. I will show you.” Alec moved back to his stool in the center of the room.

    This could take hours she thought and I cannot wait here for this I have to move our stuff out of the old apartment in to this dump what am I going to do.

    Suddenly the space in front of Alec began to warp and distort slightly. She moved slowly toward Alec as he sat with his eyes shut and motionless. In front of him, the air began to move. A large cloud formed comprised from the dirt and dust from the floor. Then like a zipper in the air the wall of dust opened up.

    Maria moved behind Alec for protection. She could not believe what she saw. The sun, green grass, it was a park, just as she remembered as a child. After the Great Invasion the sun was only a memory the large artificial day lights were the only illumination there had been for years. She stood captivated not believing what she saw.

    Alec opened his eyes with a large grin looked back a Maria “Do you see it, Do you?”
    All she could do was nod her head. Before she knew what was happening he grabbed her hand and pulled her through the opening to the other side. With a rush of wind they were gone. The warehouse was empty once again and the dust settled on the two empty stools.

    • swatchcat says:

      So, nice story. Now lets get something straight from the get-go. I sometimes come across as snide or snarky. I am sorry and do not mean anything rude or bad by what I’m about to say. Take it with a grain of salt if you want. I am far from perfect, make mistakes, and value any creative critique. Okay, there’s my disclaimer.
      Your story needs a lot of work. When I started to read it, I was roadblocked by many troubled, for instance.

      First line, “even and still” need to pick one. She moved to the middle of the room, rather than,”She moved over to middle of the room”. Can there be warehouses “on” train stations? Trance/Alec seemed to be in a trance.
      “I said, we can’t live here.” “beside” may need to be “besides”
      Is the doctors name Doctor or is it “the doctor”?
      MC is excited but two “I will show you” in same line?
      There are some periods needed instead of commas, and some where there aren’t any at all. There is a wall of dust where there was a cloud that maybe didn’t need to be “comprised” of detail.
      For the late appearance of what seems to be a sci-fi story, I am left questioning how the “artificial lights work when out of doors? Are they underground, under a dome, or walking between connected buildings?Why is the sun gone and what “Great Invasion”? Are they looking through the cloud into a portal or unattainable place on a view finder being teased? Ah, wait, it was a portal. Why? Where did the second stool come from and significance of two when wife was hiding behind husband?

      This is a place to learn, but we all generally try to present finished, or what we think is finished work. Aside from the genuine “oops” this is not the place for rough drafts. When a story is presented similar to this, a lot of people give up reading and move to the next story because it is too hard to get through for the speed bumps. It is a nice idea but leaves too many questions.

      • thejim says:

        Ok I can see some of what you are saying, apparently I was under a different impression of what was going on here.
        - Need an idea to help you get started writing? You’ll find hundreds of fun writing prompts here – perfect for beginning a new novel or short story, or simply giving your writing muscle a workout-
        I guess I need to spend more time working on having a finished story that can delve into every nuance of detail. (in 500 words or less) Since this is not a place for rough drafts. I also loved the disclaimer. Almost like- I say this with all do respect-

        • swatchcat says:

          Please I’m not in any position to send you away, what you quoted is absolutely true. Stay, practice and learn just know criticism can be harsh here. If what you have submitted is your style then come and learn with the rest of us just be aware better writers expect more and lesser learn more

    • Observer Tim says:

      I enjoyed this, theJim. It’s a great idea and fairly well executed, good mind-stretching SF. I quite enjoy the ideas you come up with – what I’ve seen of your work strikes a chord with me.

      Swatch had accurate comments on grammar, but a different presentation might have been better. I don’t think many of the stories we post here would stand up well to a really detailed grammar-check.

      Personally I got the point about the artifical lights. They’re obviously living in an artificial environment of some sort (due to enclosure or pollution is not stated) and, hopefully, Alec has finally found a way out, probably to another dimension.

      Oh, and since the tone of the day is to be picayune on the grammar, it should be “composed of” not “comprised from” ;) That’s one of my pet bugaboos.

      • swatchcat says:

        It was a pleasant story absolutely and I had put my disclaimer in there. Oh, thank you for my word of the day Observer Tim, Picayune. I try not to be one as it gets me into these conversations. Thank you for all the feedback on the feedback, can’t wait to see what y’all say about mine.

    • Victor says:

      The good thing about criticism of grammar – it’s something fairly easily fixed. The imagination to come up with a decent story and tell it entertainingly – that’s the hard stuff. I thought the move to the other side worked really well. I saw it happen quite vividly.

    • agnesjack says:

      An imaginative story, thejim.

      I think there are valid points here about grammar and punctuation (periods missing, etc.), but as Victor says, grammar can be learned and fixed, but a lack of imagination cannot.

    • frankd1100 says:

      The story is beautiful. It seems to me that couples who make it work find a way to coordinate the lead or follow routine. There are times where one has to give in to the other’s need to express an idea, belief or wish. And occaisonaly faith is rewarded.

    • don potter says:

      Hey, the key to me is to have an idea that can be turned into a good story with vivid descriptions and believable characters. If I tell it with my voice I’ve done the job. After turning on spell check and making a couple of editorial swipes, I let the piece marinate overnight. Then I give it one last edit in the morning and post it. After that I write something else. This prompt page is my weekly get-back-to -basics assignment. Since I’m working on my sixth novel, it takes me away from that project and makes me write to a specific prompt within a specific word limit. I like the discipline. Reading what others write broadens my thinking. And, I like being part of this creative community. So let’s all come writing and supporting each another.

    • Neat piece of scifi/fantasy. I had to read it twice to pick up all the threads. Very imaginative. I hope you continue with it.

  38. swatchcat says:

    Okay, first of all, wicked. Second, saw a few typo’s or grammatical errors, totally fixable. Did not see that approach coming at all, nice.

  39. Leanderdias says:

    Thanks for your constructive criticism. I guess I should have looked through it a few times before posting it. It’s just that I’m quite new to this and that I got a little too excited.

    You will be seeing a lot more from me. Thanks again.

  40. PeterW says:

    Writing Prompt Spouses

    Well in these types of situations there are two things you can say.

    “Are you kidding me? Are f-ing kidding me?” or
    “Okay, strange choice babe, but let’s do it.”

    Let’s weight each choice in terms of spousal response and consequence.

    First choice one is the right choice. Yep, the right choice…”are you kidding me, dear, our life-savings, you are six months pregnant and we own six pets and I just lost my job as an nurse’s assistant and we have to pay for your mother’s funeral expenses, this is not the right time to buy a new house, let alone a new warehouse. Are you kidding me.” Let’s face it, the spouse has made a terrible decision. That not the worse part though, the worst part is that she didn’t consult you first. It an issue of trust and connubial communication. There has to be an open dialogue. The bad decision must be made together/joint. For example you both made the decision her tubes in-vitro fertilized three times by three different clinics within a month and thus you each take on the responsibility of raising the fraternal septuplets gestating her massive womb. That decision was joint. You also made the decision to smoke bedside-reefer before we sleep. That decision was joint as well. You also agreed it would be uplifting to have wondrously warm sexual experiences on LSD with our church group, ‘The Holy Tritarians Super Evangelists’. And it was uplifting. You discussed over the reefer whether our seven children should be allowed to play video games, at what ages they could have their own phones, at what age it would be permissible to allow them to decide whether to partake in reefer and also the more concupiscent activities of The HTSE. But the decision to buy a warehouse was not warranted. In marriage it is about togetherness. You said it in your vows, togetherness. And the purchase violates the sense of togetherness and thus warrants a slap on the face, and, “Are you kidding me, right now, at this instant, are you kidding me.”

    Let us now look at response two. “Let’s do this babe.” It is the nice choice. Especially because the deal was final. The man with the eye-patch who sold it was very adamant about his return policy, that policy being, “No way sucker.” So “Let’s do this babe,” would be the nice, loving, supporting husband response. It would not be terrible. Also in your vows at the HTSE super wedding experience we said to that we would love and support each other ‘through sickness and health, through HTSE-mandated genitalia-checks for Jesus and HTSE cleansing days. So this would be supportive. Not only that but it would ease the conscience, which currently thinking about some verbal spousal abuse and a possible argument drawn out subtly for years with cold-shouldering, eye-rolling, passive-aggressiveness over cleaning the dishes, not only through the move-in process, but the birth of seven partially Asian children (the sperm was donated). But live and let live. After-all part of the reason for initial attraction for this woman was her spontaneity. The way she would suddenly jump from the couch and dash on all fours throughout the house. The way she would come over with a pizza even-though she was definitely told there would be a meal w/ candles. The way, during coitus, she would beg to be tickled underneath the arm. This spontaneity is one of her virtues albeit curses albeit attractiveness cues, thus love her for who she is, and accept that she has just purchased a warehouse on Pier 18 in the port of Oakland, and that you will have to move from rural Missouri in a few weeks with no money, leave it all behind, seventeen inbred brothers/cousins, dad, mom, the boys at the Alley (bowling alley/whorehouse), the pig farm, the HTSE and their midnight services/orgies (for Jesus), and even the kid who isn’t yours (one of the bro-couses most likely), but who you pay a lot of child support on still, because of inconclusive DNA tests, because the kid has gigantism of his left arm, which is destroying his posture and gait and thus means huge bills for chiropracty and Eastern physical therapy by Dr. Don every week (poor kid, you were teaching him how to be a boxer and pretending to be his dad, even-though he was certainly never let near your house or pets).

    So the best advice is for you to say them both. Both choices. Like this, “Are you f-ing kidding, what a strange decision babe, but okay, let’s do it, but let’s also discuss why it was not quite the best choice, but I support you 500 percent!!!” Then you high-five. This is your marriage, don’t destroy it over trivialities, don’t destroy it over huge errors of judgment or judgment non-existent.

    PeteW, Marriage Counselor.

    (I would apologize for the word count, but I’m not sorry. Every word is very, very, very, very important, okay, got it. I do however apologize for grammar errors and general confusion).

    • Svapne says:

      Great story! It was thoroughly entertaining, which in my case is a bad thing because my boss is literally ten feet away and I can’t laugh without drawing attention to my not-working ways.

      I like the counselor take on the prompt, and I love the many hedonistic intricacies of the odd relationship these two have. At least they’ll have plenty of room for the young ones to run around in. :)

      • swatchcat says:

        Frickin’ right on! I was with you when you said it could only go one of two ways. Beautiful. As for the HTSE, interesting and I’m sure exists somewhere in this country, hmm, the neighbors next door? Anyway, loved it and was don’t think it would have had as much an impact if written differently. Nice.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Interesting pair of rants, PeterW. It took a little while to find the prompt, but stream of consciousness is like that. Also, in the first part there are a few times when the speaker seems to lose track of the fact that he’s talking to someone (e.g. “the spouse has …”).

      Some clean-up is definitely needed, even for the style.

      • PeterW says:

        Yeah it was messy, wrong this freestyle in a Starbucks for about an hour, then had to work so proofreading was let’s say brief. Plus breaking my own rules… Here I assumed the reader had read the prompt. If I were to revise and post on a blog, maybe mine, I would clean it and it’s stank up (w/o compromising style etc.).
        Thanks for comments y’all.

        • PeterW says:

          wrote not wrong*** sorry =D I do all this stuff real fast.

          • Victor says:

            Freud says there are no mistakes…but he might be wrong.

            Some great comic riffing there. Highlight and LOL moment: the kid with gigantism of the left arm – coming so soon after the tickled armpit info – a fine crescendo of perversity!

    • Susan says:

      Found this a bit of a curate’s egg – entertaining in parts, but also a bit confusing in places. I like the general take on the prompt – very innovative.

      I’m afraid I do think you should apologise for the word count – along with all the other contributors who go WAY over the 500 word mark – I thought that was part of the challenge. I don’t see how you can say every word is very, very, very important, and in the next breath acknowledge that it needs a bit of editing.

    • agnesjack says:

      Your writing is always entertaining and intriguing, PeterW, but I agree with Susan about the length. The two scenarios could have been combined into one shorter prompt, maintaining the point in the paragraph at the end.

      A lot of very wild and funny stuff, though.

  41. thejim says:

    Oh My, Well there you go. It sure did hold my interest. Was waiting for the small child to look up and give a evil laugh too. ‘ He laughed, I looked down at him, our laughter echoed through the house.’
    -
    – This part seamed to run together
    I couldn’t tell anyone without risking time in an asylum. I didn’t want to go there, doctors frighten me. I’m as alone with them as i’ve always been. Sometimes…

    Like your alone with the Doctors?
    -or-

    was rushing because my son Clint dropped fruit juice on the carpet. I wanted to punish him. I wanted him gone. I stopped to listen to her only because of the gleaming smile on her fat face. I thought getting out of the house to check out her investment would be a good distraction, some time for the voices to die down. But now that i was back, and she told me that she just spent…

    I follow what and were you were going but it took me a few times re-reading the sentence. to figure out he was not in the room but had already left – looked at the place – and now is back – think maybe could have been laid out a bit clearer (and sometimes with the 500 words and all it get tough)
    -
    Very intriguing.

  42. Leanderdias says:

    YOUR NEW HOME
          

    That was it. I couldn’t stand it anymore. The urges, the voices, the itch to kill. Every time she opened her trout like mouth all i could hear were the sounds of sharp fingernails screeching against outdated chalk boards and sterling forks being dragged across porcelain plates. I just wanted her to stop. They wanted her to stop. I have fought the voices in my head my whole life. Voices that tell me to stab, rip and kill. They were many, i could tell, for each voice had different more sinister characteristic. Some raspy and manic, others shrill and lively, but always… evil. I couldn’t tell anyone without risking time in an asylum. I didn’t want to go there, doctors frighten me. I’m as alone with them as i’ve always been. Sometimes their cries would soften and become hazy, like a window was closed upon them; but it was always temporary. They came back when i got angry or sad. Which was frequently. When they came I would close my eyes and watch myself kill a hundred different ways in my imagination; the mail man, the gardener, my wife and kids.I could keep them at bay like this, always teetering on the edge. But this time, i was tipped over.
    My childhood was easier. People, even my own parents, would leave me alone with the presumption that i was just a ‘weird’ kid. The voices weren’t as pernicious as they are now because i was still innocent. I was not yet exposed to the horrors of the world. They matured as i did, and became what they are today. I tried to keep myself away from things as far as i could, but darkness always crept in somehow. A murder on the news, a horror film promo, a pop up on the computer. I never stood a chance. When the voices grew too loud, i took it out on smaller, less significant living things around me. I ripped the legs off insects, threw rocks at birds and even drowned my cat in the pool. Initially i wanted to be caught, i wanted to be subdued, but now i don’t want it anymore…i have too much to lose. I was rushing to bed when my wife caught me off guard with the news of her transaction. I was rushing because my son Clint dropped fruit juice on the carpet. I wanted to punish him. I wanted him gone. I stopped to listen to her only because of the gleaming smile on her fat face. I thought getting out of the house to check out her investment would be a good distraction, some time for the voices to die down. But now that i was back, and she told me that she just spent our life savings on that crap hole that was to be our home, the voices were unleashed with a force beyond my control.
    “You…What did you s–”
    “Are you deaf? I said we have no choice but to move. I gave them everything we had. Live with it”
    When she turned to do the dishes, convulsing hands reached for her throat. The cacophony in my head grew louder and louder, and the relief of release, like peeing after holding out in traffic for hours, enveloped me. A loud foreign laughter escaped my mouth and echoed through the house.Clint who sat playing with his trucks in the corner began to cry. I felt my wife squirm in my arms, watched her eyes bulge in the reflection of the window and bleed from her tiny nose. It took awhile for her to die, but die she did.
    I felt renewed. The guilt that i expected to wash over me never came. Instead the weight of the millstone i had been caring all my life suddenly evaporated.I licked my lips,ran my hand through my hair and then smashed the head of my wife’s corpse onto the blue tile floor. It bounced of the surface with a pleasurable crack. My son, who was now in a state of delirium began to crawl towards his dead mother. I once again gave into the itch and, with all my strength, kicked him across the room.
    I looked at myself in the corridor mirror and smiled at a face i did not recognize.
    “Yes, I have waited too long for this..”

    • thejim says:

      Oh My, Well there you go. It sure did hold my interest. Was waiting for the small child to look up and give a evil laugh too. ‘ He laughed, I looked down at him, our laughter echoed through the house.’
      -
      – This part seamed to run together
      I couldn’t tell anyone without risking time in an asylum. I didn’t want to go there, doctors frighten me. I’m as alone with them as i’ve always been. Sometimes…

      Like your alone with the Doctors?
      -or-

      was rushing because my son Clint dropped fruit juice on the carpet. I wanted to punish him. I wanted him gone. I stopped to listen to her only because of the gleaming smile on her fat face. I thought getting out of the house to check out her investment would be a good distraction, some time for the voices to die down. But now that i was back, and she told me that she just spent…

      I follow what and were you were going but it took me a few times re-reading the sentence. to figure out he was not in the room but had already left – looked at the place – and now is back – think maybe could have been laid out a bit clearer (and sometimes with the 500 words and all it get tough)
      -
      Very intriguing.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Interesting stream of consciousness. I have a little trouble seeing how it relates to the prompt, but then this literary form is not one I normally enjoy.

      • Leanderdias says:

        So you did enjoy it ?

        • Observer Tim says:

          Yes, I did. I should have made that point clearer. Sorry.

          (P.S. Sorry for the apology, I’m Canadian.)

          • Svapne says:

            [Sorry, this is a little long. It's also my first time using HTML tags, so I hope the formatting works right.]

            I started with little things.

            I made coffee too strong, then too weak, and dubbed it perfect both times. I wore flannel and jeans and then blew a paycheck on designer shoes. I left the cat box for a week, then cleaned it twice a day. I went on a paleo diet then switched to vegan. I’d want missionary in the dark one week… alternatives the next. I ran hot and cold, in temperature and temperament.

            My husband adapted. He huffed something about hormones and pregnancy tests a few times, but then fell silent, somewhere between amused tolerance and vapid complacence.

            I upped the ante. I clung to him, even showed up at his work randomly. Then I pushed him away, spending whole nights out of the house. He questioned if I was faithful. I was pushing his limits, on purpose, but that was the one I couldn’t bear. I backed off for a while.

            Then opportunity fell into my lap. I was sure this one would work. I bought a goddamned warehouse with all our goddamned savings, and I presented it proudly, telling him that “well, we’ll have to save up again so we can fight to get the zoning changed from industrial to residential, but we can stay with relatives until then.”

            He broke down crying; I was so sure I’d won. But he didn’t scream “the woman I married wouldn’t do this shit!” He just left, and I got a call from the divorce lawyer hours later.

            And that was it. I lost.

            -

            I couldn’t leave the warehouse. I sat there for hours. A bum wandered in; I knew him well.

            I’d bought him a charity coffee. He’d sung some bullshit song about losing his situation due to false accusations and how, despite proof of innocence, his superiors wouldn’t risk it. He’d lost everything because of a rumor.

            He’d told me that it doesn’t matter one shit if you know you’re better than that, because if someone can believe it about you, you need to re-evaluate your life decisions.

            Then he ate a beetle off the sidewalk like it was a lady finger. I watched in that sort of not-looking-away-from-a-train-accident way.

            “Nobody sticks by anybody anymore” he’d said. Like the newlywed idiot I was, I’d argued the point. “Yeah, I bet” he’d said. And, an idiot, I accepted. I didn’t think anything could possibly come of such a ridiculous wager until he’d smiled.

            “Should’ve opened with this; might’ve worked” he says now, sitting next to me. He smells of piss. “One-hundred chances… one-hundred failures” he scolds, reminding me as though I could forget the deal.

            “See if he thinks you’re off your rocker, or if it’s you. But none of that possessed-pea-soup-and-acrobatics-bullshit: just you being not-quite-you” he’d said.

            “You don’t have to gloat.”

            “Sorry, it’s in my nature.”

            “But this wasn’t in mine!” I cry. “I hoped he knew me better… or that he would stick by me.”

            “Leopard changed her spots. This was icing on the cake, not a sudden 180.” There’s no amusement or mockery; he’s been through this too much to care anymore.

            “Look, you’ve won. Just take your prize.”

            He shrugs, uncaring. Then there’s a fiery slip and slide, and I fall all the way down.

            Instead of him returning there, I fall. That was the deal.

          • Svapne says:

            Ah! Why! Sorry the above monstrosity posted in the middle of comments down here. Something bugged out.

            But while I’m down here:

            @Leanderdias: bitch deserved it. You’ve got some work to do, but it was a solid foundation to improve from.

            @ObserverTim: you’re wonderfully Canadian. Don’t apologize. :)

    • agnesjack says:

      This was very disturbing, and, to be honest, I didn’t get the overall point. Here is someone who has been hearing voices all his life and no one knew about it? His wife, his kids, his boss?

      That said, I thought the writing was very good. It flowed well and, even though I didn’t want to continue to the inevitably horrible end, I was carried along to the finish.

      The prompt got a little lost in the story, though, and it is way over the 500 word limit. I think a shorter version would have been just as shocking (which I think may have been the point of the story), but less relentless.

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